The City of Akko recognized the work of the Akko Kibbutz in mitigating the impact of the Covid-19 crisis in the city’s impoverished neighborhoods through vital social and community aid.
“Sitting here is a group of people, each one of whom put their own problems and concerns aside to strengthen the social fabric of the city,” said Yaniv Ashur at a special ceremony on June 11 in which the City of Akko commended Dror Israel’s educators’ kibbutz for its activities during the COVID-19 lockdown.
One week ago, Akko’s municipal volunteer coordinator reached out to propose a small ceremony (in accordance with Ministry of Health guidelines) in order to express thanks and appreciation for the community’s work during the lockdown. Even though the pandemic is not yet behind us, the city felt that it was important to stop now and recognize all of those who worked so hard.
“This wasn’t a limited period of action. In my opinion, this is the way of life of the members of the educators’ kibbutz. I don’t know every one of you, but I feel that this is a real partnership. And it really warms my heart that I know that in good times and bad – like during this pandemic – you are here, our partners, and you are with us,” said Adi Mekel, Municipal Welfare Director.
After the speeches, city officials distributed small gifts to all the volunteers – both members of the educators’ kibbutz and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods who the kibbutz recruited to help during the lockdown.
“It was important for us not to work alone. Just like our activities throughout the year. We saw that there was a crisis affecting everyone and said to ourselves that part of managing this crisis is to identify people who are managing to stay afloat and to connect them to those who were beginning to drown. So we recruited representatives from each building in the neighborhood who took care of their neighbors – Jews and Arabs – to make sure that they had whatever they needed – whether it was medication, groceries or help taking out the trash,” said Mirit Sulema, the coordinator of the Akko Educators’ Kibbutz.
Michal Keidar, a 39-year-old member of community and coordinator of the neighborhood activities during the lockdown, concluded the event as follows:
“I admit that I thought that the isolation would eat people alive, teach people to be afraid of one another because that’s how to keep yourself free of the virus. What a paradox. But this paradox is the challenge, and in order to deal with it we opened our (gloved) arms to our many partners. This partnership is what helped people feel less hemmed in and to allow a little bit of light in amid the dreary forecasts of unemployment, poverty, loneliness, and violence. We still need to gather our strength to overcome these challenges. By getting together with you – the volunteers and our partners – we are charging the batteries of our spirit of change and hope, and our belief in a strong and democratic civil society that can trust the institutions not to abandon the weak and not let this crisis dismantle our society.”
After the event, everyone walked to the local hummus restaurant to meet representatives of Akko’s religious community. “It was important to us to recognize the cooperation between the educators’ kibbutz and its volunteers, and the Garin Torani (young religious community) in the city and its volunteers. Throughout the period of the lockdown, we worked together: we took care of hundreds of senior citizens in the city, we packed and distributed food, we worked shoulder to shoulder to help anyone who needed it. We also wanted to have a joint appreciation ceremony. But we had to overcome the social distancing restrictions that we still have in Israel, especially recently when we have seen a troubling increase in cases,” said Nadav Raviv, 29, a member of the educators’ kibbutz who worked together with the Garin Torani.