Photo Credit: courtesy, City of Jerusalem
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan Nahoum at t he Jerusalem Food Distribution Center

For the first time in the history of the Jewish State, more than a million Israelis are out of a job, and this past month have been forced to sign up for unemployment benefits.

According to a report in Globes, the number of unemployed in the country has skyrocketed from a record low of four percent to a record high of 24.1 percent; a total 1,004,031 Israelis are now jobless.

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Worse, 90 percent of those who registered at the unemployment office in March are on unpaid leave due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

And the Jewish and Christian holidays of Passover and Easter respectively are coming up fast.

As for the holiest city on the planet — Jerusalem — most people are unaware that it is, in fact, also Israel’s poorest city per capita, with its large, strictly Orthodox Jewish and Arab communities each struggling with poverty even during the best of times.

This is not the best of times.

Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum has turned to the Genesis 123 Foundation organization for help, knowing the group has a wide reach among both Christians and Jews.

Taking the step of closing down schools in order to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus, she said, was the right move. However, “This is causing incredible hardship for some 6,000 families in Jerusalem who have children in these schools, and whose families normally have the respite of a structured educational framework.

“Adding to the challenges of taking care of special needs children all day with no outside support, about a third of these families, 2,000 households suffer from severe economic hardship,” the deputy mayor said.

In its release, the Genesis 123 Foundation responded, “We are proud to be part of the coalition providing urgent needs to support these at-risk and special needs families, a third of whom live below the poverty line.

“We are grateful to our network of Christian and Jewish partners, individuals and pastors and rabbis as well as other community leaders, who are stepping up to join us in meeting these immediate needs.”

The organization has immediately set out to raise the funds needed to help relieve the financial strain on the neediest of the families, “over and above the stress of taking care of their special needs children on their own, something many parents don’t have the ability to do.”

To learn more, and to join in the effort, click here.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.