Israel and COVID-19


Like nearly every other organization or business the Baltimore Jewish Council has been forced to adapt to the new way of life that we now have in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it is a scary and unprecedented situation to be in, we are as committed as ever to fulfilling our mission of serving the Baltimore Jewish community and the entire Baltimore community. To that end, we were proud to join with our long-time partners at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC just before the beginning of Passover to provide an update on what Israel is doing to respond to COVID-19.

Our featured speaker, Tammy Ben-Haim, serves as the Minister of Public Diplomacy at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. She joined us via webinar.

Tammy addressed an online audience of over 50 people from across Maryland. Tammy explained how Israel, which, at the point, had seen just under 400 cases of COVID-19, is uniquely positioned to fight the pandemic.

The small and mostly homogeneous state is no stranger to reacting to emerging crises, particularly terrorist attacks and other security threats. Israel’s small size enabled the quick suspension of nearly all flights in and out of the country’s two international airports.

Because Israel’s national airlines, El Al, is government-owned, she added, Israel has a level of control over the transportation that is coming in and out of the country.

Though just like the United States, Israel has been facing some of the same types of issues. Shortages of basic household goods persist, particularly with the availability of eggs. Social distancing is a new reality for Israelis as it is for Americans, and entire cities in Israel have been in lockdown and residents have been required to self-quarantine.

However, since most Israelis serve in the military, they are trained to understand how to handle a situation and are used to responding to government and the authority in times of crisis.

Tammy took some questions from the audience covering some uniquely Israel issues as well, such as the possibility of a fourth election. It still remains to be seen how COVID-19 may affect the formation of a new government as the deadline to create a coalition continues to near.

Lastly, Tammy talked about the assistance that is being offered to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank as Israel attempts to help everyone within reach.

The Baltimore Jewish Council would like to thank Tammy Ben-Haim and the Israeli Embassy in Washington for making this event possible, as well as everyone who joined us. We hope you will also view our online Yom HaShoah Commemoration presentation premiering on Sunday April 19, at 12:00 PM at Baltjc.org.

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