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In Spite of It All: Rehovot Volunteers Commit to Community Despite the Coronavirus Crisis

Members of Rehovot’s Social Justice Community started Isolated but Not Lonely – a network of volunteers upholding the social fabric of solidarity and mutual aid.

Global crises are no time to give up on community. Just the opposite. That’s why Rehovot’s Social Justice Community started Isolated but Not Lonely, a program that gathers together an array of volunteers committed to maintaining the fabric of community throughout the city during these tough times. I am part of the educational team that runs Isolated but Not Lonely, together with the amazing Shiri Klar, Noga Nevo and Benny Fritz.

We develop content for educational and social activities and then distribute them to building coordinators who see that they get through to all the residents. We actually learn a lot ourselves by reading, thinking and talking as we prepare the materials. What is loneliness? What is the opposite of loneliness? Is despair an inevitable part of being alone? What is our role in combating it? What is community? How do you create community from afar?

At times when the ground beneath us seems unstable, when reality as we know it shifts so rapidly, when loneliness and isolation distance us from everything and everyone we knew, when despair seems closer than ever, we tend to hole up inside ourselves out of necessity. Out of fear.

This is the time to say, “In spite of it all!”

When Y.H. Brenner coined that Hebrew phrase, he was referring to despair as a creative force.

I found the words of Brenner, written almost a century ago, to be as clear as if he wrote them yesterday. That is the unique power of the great Hebrew writer. “Logic will strike down to divide us from ourselves: How can we be ourselves without ourselves? Logic will be what it is. The yearning for life inside us – stronger than all logic – suggests something different. Our yearning for life tells us that anything is possible. Our yearning for life whispers to us hope.” – Workers’ Communities

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