Israel’s Response to COVID-19

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Schools, synagogues, youth groups, and camps are working harder and becoming more creative and innovative than ever before. As one leader of a prominent East Coast school quipped to me, “This horrible pandemic is actually forcing all of us to become more thoughtful about what good education can look like. When all of this ends, I hope we can integrate everything we’ve learned, making learning and Jewish education the best it can be.” Indeed, necessity is the mother of invention. 

But in some ways, there is now an over-supply of content now, despite the serious demand for connection. 

That’s why we launched Game Changers

That’s why we shrank the Jewish world and interviewed the unparalleled Natan Sharansky together with 85 other organizations. 

And, that’s why today at 3:00PM EDT/ 12:00PM PDT, we are interviewing a true “Game Changer,” Yossi Klein Halevi.

Make sure to tune in here to watch this global event. 

Because at Unpacked for Educators, we’re about much more than content; We’re about connection. 

Below, please see our Weekly which captures our “TOP 10” of inspirational moments and other key headlines from Israel as the Israeli people responded to COVID-19.

Stay safe. 


Top 10:

10. Israelis love singing and dancing, regardless of the circumstances.

In this video, Israelis around the country who are quarantined at home go to their balconies to sing and dance with their neighbors, who in most cases are the performers as well.

9. Gal Gadot’s “Infamous” Video

Israeli and global celebrity Gal Gadot, along with a large group of Hollywood celebrities made the rounds, when she posted a video of them all singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”. Many loved it — and many posted spoofs of what some thought was a “cringe-worthy” recording within a short period of time.

8. Israel Rescues Stranded Israelis Abroad

Israel sent planes to various locations, including Peru, Italy, and India, to rescue stranded Israelis around the world free of charge. Israelis broke into song during the long flight from Peru in a sign of unity and appreciation.

7. Israelis Appreciate Their Medical Staff

In an impressive showing of solidarity, Israelis throughout the country took to their balconies to applaud medical staff for risking their lives to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

6. Israeli Musicians Keep Performing!

Top Israeli artists have been performing live shows from empty venues and their living rooms for Israeli audiences watching at home on television. Since all concerts have been cancelled, the musicians have come into Israelis’ homes.

5. Israeli Rabbis Are Making Innovative (and controversial) Rulings

A group of Sephardi Orthodox Rabbis ruled that in some instances, Jews are permitted to hold Passover Seders over video conference in order to include older relatives who will be alone at home. Naturally, many other leading rabbis fervently disagreed with the ruling.

4. Israeli Post Spreads Throughout the Arab World

An Arabic greeting from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs went spread throughout the Arab world. The post read, “This is a message to you from Israel: We pray to Allah to protect the inhabitants of Arab countries. The coronavirus is spreading quickly in the world these days and knows no borders, religions and nationalities.”

3. Israel Finally Has a Government! (we think)

After the longest political stalemate in the history of the state of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz have agreed to form a national unity government…for now. In the process, the Blue and White party broke up, creating plenty of tension in the new Knesset.

2. Israel Uses Artificial Intelligence to Fight COVID-19

Israel has been using artificial intelligence to predict the spread of COVID-19 and protect its citizens. Israel’s Health Ministry launched a new phone app called “Hamagen” (The Shield) which compares the whereabouts of users with those who have been diagnosed with Corona within the previous two weeks.

1. Picture of Co-existence Inspires The World

This remarkable photograph of a Jewish and Muslim Paramedic team taking a joint prayer break spread like wildfire with Nir Dvori (the first person to post it) writing “efshar” – “it is possible.” 

Discussion Questions

  1. Which of these events resonates the most with you and why?
  2. What about the Israeli community lends itself to such unity at a time like this?
  3. What are some things that you have learned about Israel through the way Israelis have dealt with COVID-19?
  4. The Israeli military has said that there has been a massive decrease in terrorist activity throughout the Middle East due to countries dealing with the virus. How can COVID-19 become a tool for change in society?

Noam Weissman

Dr. Noam Weissman is Senior Vice President at OpenDor Media. He leads the education vision and implementation at OpenDor Media with a special focus on the development of meaningful content and resources for students and educators. He holds a doctorate in educational psychology from USC with a focus on curriculum design.

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