Photo Credit: Miri Shemonovitz / TPS
A wedding at Jerusalem's City Hall., with Mayor Moshe Lion. March 17, 2020

The global spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) has altered life as we know it almost overnight, completely disrupting plans and bringing many walks of life to a complete standstill.

With a growing number of Corona patients, the Israeli government has issued several restricting directives to stem the spread of the virus, including the closure of all places of public entertainment, shopping malls and schools.

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Israeli society, over the years, has grown accustomed to times of crisis and has developed unique ways to cope with the various predicaments, chiefly by lending a hand to each other and devising creative ways to overcome the obstacles presented by the new and complex reality.

Facing an almost complete closure of businesses, many couples who had planned to get married this week were left empty-handed and with no venue at which to hold their special occasion, prompting many Israelis to lend a hand.

The Jerusalem Municipality announced the City Hall could be used for weddings, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation has offered couples who wished to get married a balcony overlooking the Kotel (Western Wall), and Chaya Weisberg, who owns an apartment overlooking the Kotel and Temple Mount, has said that couples who want get married can do so with a party of 10 on her porch for free.

Miriam and Aharon Halevy got married on Tuesday evening in the Jerusalem Mayor’s office in a modest ceremony, in the presence of Mayor Moshe Leon. In America, getting married at City Hall is a cliche, but not it’s not common in Israel.

The mayor, who recited one of the wedding blessings, said that it was “a great privilege to celebrate with a bride and groom. We are in hard times, but we will pass it together.”

A clip by TPS showed a couple getting married at the entrance to the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, with family and friends celebrating with them on surrounding balconies in groups of 2 each.

A couple was married at a central public park in Efrat in the open air.

The Ein Hemed Forest Events Hall decided to hold a Las Vegas-style wedding marathon and invited anyone who wanted to get married to do so at their venue, one after the other, with a photographer and music, at no cost.

Many Israelis are staying home due to the various constraints, leading the MDA to fear that its blood bank may run low. The IDF stepped in and held a blood drive among the soldiers of the Benjamin regional division.

IDF Medical officer Lt. Rotem Arbiv said that “these days we are all fighting to minimize the spread of the Corona, and so now, more than ever, the State of Israel needs the initiative and giving of the soldiers for the public.”

The school system was completely shut down, leaving some two and half million children at home while the parents are still required to work.

Small groups of teenagers have banded at various locations across the country to help with babysitting, free of charge.

The almost complete shutdown of the Israeli economy has left many without jobs and placed businesses in extremely difficult situations.

A food supplies merchant in the Gush Etzion area was left with food supplies he could not sale, so local residents organized a sale of his stock ahead of the Passover holiday.

The Nof Genosar Hotel, on the Kinneret’s beach, was shut down due to a complete halt in tourism. Understanding he had a massive supply of food with no one to serve it to, hotel manager Ronnie Manor decided to distribute the food stock stored at the hotel through volunteers to those in need, especially ahead of Passover, including many elderly people, Holocaust survivors, and needy families.

“Mutual support is the most important of all, and I hope that more hotels in the area will follow us. Together we will emerge stronger from the crisis,” said Manor.

A spreading phenomenon TPS has witnessed at various places is landlords forgoing the monthly rent for their tenets who have lost their jobs.

One landlord gave back the rent in cash, said he would pay for the utilities and would help out with food and the kids, if needed.

The children’s home of Emunah Bet Elazraki in Netanya, at which 200 children live, has adopted special procedures to ensure everyone’s health.

“Our home is fully prepared for prevention and caution,” the children’s home Director, Yehuda Kohn said. “Every day we check the children and staff, take their temperature twice a day, and are fully aware of every child’s complaints and make sure to take anything we hear with all seriousness. We also put together a new regulation whereby every hour, everyone washes their hands with soap, and for meals in the dining room, everyone sits only on one side of the table.”

Kohn placed special emphasis on the emotional aspect, especially in the context of children at risk. “It must be remembered that these are children whose thresholds of anxiety are also relatively high due to the traumas they experienced in their lives,” he explained. “At times like this when the panic is spreading, we focus on calming the spirits, explaining everything, and mostly giving the children a sense of security knowing that we are here for them and are responsible for them.”

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