Photo Credit: Hana Levi Julian

In the northern Negev city of Arad, Jewish families are battling a disease that is usually found in third-world environments.

But the parents of four-year-old Lia Esther Schneider say that she was diagnosed with dysentery and shigella after a week in which their little girl suffered “hell on earth” – diarrhea, non-stop nosebleeds and sleepless nights for both her and her parents.


And the Schneiders were not alone: children in dozens of other families came down with the same symptoms.

In an exclusive interview with, Natalie Schneider — a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen — said the parents, who called each other, later discovered that food being served in the public school system was not being inspected or tested daily as it was supposed to be, due to budget cuts in the municipality. They also found that the food, which was arriving in the city from the vendor at the incorrect temperature, and not up to the Health Ministry standard, had caused dozens of children to become sick.

“We haven’t slept properly in days,” Schneider said.

One of the children became so ill that the child was admitted to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva; and that was how the issue came to light. That child’s parents contacted others – and as one set of parents contacted others around town, “it became clear that the common denominator between the preschools was the food,” Schneider said.

“The mayor’s office says the vendor’s contract has been terminated,” she added, “and when I spoke to the mayor, he was very caring and asked about my daughter and said they were dealing with it and was very apologetic. But at the end of the day, the parents don’t trust the food at this point.”

Parents are currently taking turns to carry out food inspections themselves, Schneider said, at least for the time being.


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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, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.