Myriam Willcocks  
United Kingdom
Working in the NHS

Hanna Gary
Life lessons volunteering
with the Jebra Kadisha

Renata Gavrylenko
Working with the elderly
and vulnerable

Hinrich Kaasmann
Supporting Aliyah to Israel

Marcos Laban
Hatzalah Volunteer Paramedic

Ana Clara Antaki
Protecting the elderly
in our care

Mauro Zaitz
A Look inside the
Chevra Kadisha

Jean Francois Guthmann
Œuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) has been helping the vulnerable since 1912

Danny Savage
United Kingdom
Brookvale care home for
mentally and physically handicapped adults


Working in the NHS

Myriam Willcocks

Myriam Willcocks
United Kingdom

It is important to me as a Bank Staff Senior Administrator in the NHS that mental health patients are not forgotten in the Coronavirus Pandemic.

“It is a privilege to serve
the NHS in this way”

While a number of colleagues have been working from home, skeleton staff are needed in the office.Important day to day duties include reassuring clients that their appointments will take place via telephone consultation. Also ensuring the duty rotas are emailed at the beginning of the day so that clients are reassured that someone will return their calls particularly when they are not having a good day. Prescriptions – mainly controlled drugs, need to be printed out so that they are signed immediately by a consultant.

Myriam Willcocks is a Team Medical Administrator in the NHS in London, England.

At least one consultant must be in the office. Several of us are happy to pop the scripts through a client’s door on our way home after our shift. I am having a break now but will not hesitate in returning to the hospital offices which are being deep cleaned continually by a cleaner who works from early morning until late at night and where we have good PPE equipment.

It is a privilege to serve the NHS in this way having recently returned to the UK from Tel Aviv on Friday March 6 after a wonderful and inspiring tour of Israel with the Israel Bonds Women’s Division International Delegation. It was a wonderful and inspiring experience with a very special group of women.

PHOTO: Photo courtesy of Myriam Willcocks

Life lessons volunteering with the Jebra Kadisha
(Chevra Kadisha)

Hanna Gary is a volunteer with the Jebra Kadisha from the Kehila Askenazi and Kehila Bet-El

Hanna Gary

Astonishment is the first reaction I get from people when I tell them I am part of the community’s Jebra Kadisha.

Most of the time they tell me "I could never do something like that" - and they also tell me how proud they are that some people are willing
to do it.

“During the current pandemic, even in these times when the situation is critical, our devotion and responsibilities never waiver.”

There are many like me who are part of the Jebra, many of us who perform this completely optional and voluntary work.

Despite all the surprised and intrigued reactions, I can say from the deepest part of my soul that from the first moment I started doing this job, I have learned so much. Death has taught me more about life than any philosophy, religion, or history books.

Beyond the religion, the process of body purification generates a bond of the most utter respect to the deceased person, not focussing on his or her death but rather on the life that was lived.

We do take extra protective measures and have stricter protocols, but the ritual has to be done the same way and with the same respect as always. During the current pandemic, even in these times when the situation is critical, our devotion and responsibilities never waiver.

PHOTO: Photo courtesy of Hanna Gary

When working with the elderly and vulnerable;
service, education, and empathy are key.

Renata Gavrylenko is the owner of Stern outpatient nursing and elderly care service In Frankfurt Germany.

Renata Gavrylenko

We are the outpatient medical and geriatric care called “Stern” in Frankfurt am Main. We look after people who are limited in their self-care skills from all over Frankfurt and beyond. In the time of Coronavirus, protecting our clients and employees is particularly important to us. All our clients belong to the group of high-risk patients for whom an infection with COVID-19 could have devastating consequences.

“Loneliness took on new meaning
for the people we work with”

At the beginning of the pandemic we faced a special challenge. The hygiene items so necessary for us were hardly available on the market, so it was very difficult to comply with the hygiene guidelines. With a lot of effort, which could also be felt financially, we managed to equip our employees with protective masks and disinfectants.

The next challenge we faced was to educate the employees on new protocols for self-protection and the protection of our clients, as well as educating our clients about Covid-19 in general. We had to deal with our own fears at work every day and our clients feared for their lives. People who survived World War II and the Holocaust were now afraid of the invisible danger. Not just in times of Covid-19 - but especially now - we show all our empathy to our clients.

Renata Gavrylenko is the owner of Stern outpatient nursing and elderly care service in
Frankfurt, Germany.

For employees who used to commute to work by bus and train, we organized a transport service to limit their exposure to the virus
on public transportation.

For our clients, we organized a shopping service to help limit their exposure in a supermarket. Loneliness took on new meaning for the people we work with: no family visits, no trips to the café, etc. Our clients have always been able to reach us by phone 24/7. Since the lockdown began our phone lines have become essential for the physical and mental well-being of the people we serve.

We all hope that this will be over soon. We are very grateful that so far there have been no infections among our employees and clients, thanks to the employees and their circumspection at work and at home.

Renata Gavrylenko is the owner of Stern outpatient nursing and elderly care service in Frankfurt, Germany.


PHOTO: Photo courtesy of Renata Gavrylenko

As Germans, supporting Jews always needs to address the past

Hinrich Kaasmann

Hinrich Kaasmann
Hamburg, Germany

As head of Ebenezer Germany, we have been involved with Aliyah to Israel since 1993, when there was a shipping line from Odessa to Haifa that lasted until 2004. As Germans, supporting Jews always needs to address the past, acknowledge the guilt of our fathers and vow to support Israel in the future. On this basis, trust can be built and the sensitive topic of Aliyah
can be addressed.

“The Ebenezer teams visit needy Jews in Kaliningrad, Samara, Ukraine and in the
war zone of eastern Ukraine”

Today, there is trust and excellent cooperation with Jewish
communities and organisations.

In these times of coronavirus, the Ebenezer teams visit needy Jews in Kaliningrad, Samara, Ukraine, and in the war zone of eastern Ukraine bringing support with food packs, medicine, and most importantly with encouragement from G-D’s word. “HE has promised to bring the Jews home to Israel and plant them inthe Land”- Psalm 80,10; Jer 24,6

Now our teams support stranded Olim who have left their Ukrainian home and are stuck in unpleasant places. In cooperation with quite a few organisations, the Israeli Embassy organizes evacuation flights from Kiev, and our team takes part in the transfers to the airport by minibuses.

Hinrich and Elke Kaasmann have been leaders of an Aliyah ministry: Ebenezer Hilfsfonds for 25 years. They live in Hamburg Germany.

Of course, Aliyah is a lot of work in the countries of origin, in transport, and in integration in Israel.

The dedication of Israeli society to integrate multitudes of immigrants from totally different cultural backgrounds but with the same Jewish heritage sets an example for our European societies.

PHOTO: Photo courtesy of Hinrich Kaasmann






Hatzalah Volunteer Paramedics are on call 24/7

Marcos Laban is a Volunteer Paramedic with Hatzalah in Mexico

Marcos Laban

As a volunteer paramedic with Hatzalah Mexico, we are on call 24/7 doing a service to the community that demands a great deal of responsibility. The people that call Hatzalah need our help and depend on our ability to assist them, and in extreme cases even bring them back to life.

“Many times, life grants us the opportunity to meet the people we have been able to save. Their gratitude and appreciation stay with us forever.”

When a Hatzalah volunteer gets an emergency call, they leave everything behind: their business, their family, everything, to help one of our brothers or sisters in trouble. Every minute and every second counts to get to them as fast as possible, no matter the risk.

There are truly no words that can explain the feeling of having the merit to help a person as a volunteer paramedic so that he or she can return home to their family and loved ones until 120 years.

Many times, life grants us the opportunity to meet the people we have been able to save. Their gratitude and appreciation stay with us forever. Every time I am thanked, it fills me with good feelings and joy and brings nourishment for the soul. I am also humbled to get so much appreciation since I feel that holding this position is part of who I am. I could never stop helping unconditionally someone that needs it. It is part of my nature, as well as of the nature of all our people.

I could not imagine my life without having the privilege of helping people without expecting anything in return.
I can only pray to G-d to always have the strength to be able to keep helping more people.



PHOTO: Photo courtesy of Marcos Laban

Protecting the elderly in our care

Ana Clara Antaki is President of Froien Farain in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

Ana Clara Antaki

Froien Farain was founded in 1923 with the purpose of helping the needy in our community (Rio de Janeiro/Brazil).

“Our priority is to preserve
everyone's life and integrity.”

Today we have a geriatric home to assist elderly people who need specialized care.

In the beginning of March 2020, a committee for the prevention and control of COVID-19 was formed, under the command of our volunteer consultant Marcos Tucherman, an expert in crisis management.
So far, during the pandemic, we have taken the right precautions. We created hygiene protocols, wide adoption of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), and sectorization of spaces to minimize the possibility of contagion, among other measures. All of our standard operating procedures (SOPs) are accompanied by
extensive training and audits.

Our team’s efforts result in a safe, controlled and infection-free environment among residents and employees. We support the residents’ close familes as well as our external needy. Our priority is to preserve everyone’s life and integrity.

Taking care of our community has been hard work, but it is not impossible. It requires extra attention and complex, costly execution. On our side, there is a commitment by the whole team to carry it out.
We hope that this pandemic will be under control as soon as possible and that we
come out of it as better human beings.


PHOTO: Photo courtesy of Ana Clara Antaki

A Look inside the Chevra Kadisha during these difficult times

Mauro Zaitz is the President of the Chevra Kadisha - Associação Cemitério Israelita de São Paulo (Association of São Paulo Jewish Cemetery) in Brazil

Mauro Zaitz

As soon as the World Health Organization declared the pandemic of the new coronavirus, the Sao Paulo Chevra Kadisha adopted temporary measures to deal with the dramatic situation, in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and comply with the rulings
of the authorities.

“We guide our work by supporting bereaved families and preserving Jewish rituals of respect and honor to the body”

We closed Jewish cemeteries for visitation before quarantine and reinforced the purchase of PPE (personal protective equipment) for all employees of Jewish cemeteries.

We guide our work by supporting bereaved families and preserving Jewish rituals of respect and honor to the body, within the current sanitary limitations. Thus, we guarantee to those who lose a loved one the possibility to bury them in a dignified manner, according to our traditions and Halachá. We had to limit the number of participants during funerals to 10 people and suspend the Tahará. The distribution of kipot was also halted, and it is up to those who attend a funeral to have their own.

In support of unforeseen situations that are tragically occurring,  the Chevra Kadisha, being a sacred society, took care of  the burial of an Argentinian tourist who passed away in São Paulo.  In contact with the Jewish community of Argentina and relatives, we filmed the burial in the Israeli Cemetery of Butantã, performed all the honors, and sent the video to the son who could not be present.

We are prepared for emergencies, and thanks to G-d we are overcoming obstacles and continuing to do this work with dignity and respect to the deceased no matter their socio-economic situation.

Soon, with the blessings of Hashem, I am sure that together we will overcome this pandemic and return to normality including once again burying our loved ones with the presence and support of family and community.


PHOTO: Photo courtesy of Mauro Zaitz

Œuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) has been helping the vulnerable since 1912

Jean Francois Guthmann, President of the Œuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) lives in Paris,
and has always been a prominent member of the Jewish Community in France.

Jean Francois Guthmann

Parallel to my career in the French Government where I served at a high level of responsibility, as well as in the private sector, I have worked for the Œuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) for the last 35 years, and became its president in 1994.

“The OSE has become one of the largest
medical and social welfare organisations
in the French Jewish community.”

Founded in 1912 by a group of Jewish doctors from Saint-Petersburg, the OSE has always helped the most vulnerable, whether young or old. The organization rescued and has saved the lives of 3000 people, mainly young children whose parents, originating from Eastern Europe, had sought refuge in France during the 1930’s.

Today the OSE has enlarged its scope of intervention to families, elders, Shoah survivors and disabled persons. The OSE has become one of the largest medical and social welfare organisations in the French Jewish community. It is highly recognized by the public sanitary authorities. Its reach goes beyond the Jewish community and includes strategic partnerships with other prominent associations. For example, we have launched the Beteavon network, which meets the primary needs of isolated and elderly people and helps maintain social ties. We also helped set up a hotline, ChemaPsy, to provide psychological support from the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I would also like to highlight the extraordinary role of our professional teams who, within our health centers, provided positive energy to visitors on a daily basis. Our structures have enabled us to provide better care for the elderly in our day care centers and we see many organizations taking an interest in our model. One of our latest initiatives is to equip our centers with computers and laptops for the elderly. We are training them so they can use their laptops for cognitive stimulation and to alleviate their isolation. Some sponsors and companies have already donated new equipment, but the needs are still enormous.

My attachment to Israel is not only personal and emotional but it is also grounded in profound admiration for its extraordinary resilience and creativity. I am happy to be able to be involved with Israel Bonds in France and wish you all the best, as well as good health.    


Photo courtesy of Jean Francois Guthmann.

Brookvale care home for mentally and
physically handicapped adults

Danny Savage
United Kingdom

Danny Savage is the chairman of Brookvale Care in Manchester, England and managing
director at Pulsar Computing.

When asked how Brookvale was coping during the Covid 19 shutdown, I had to think good and hard about how to reply. If it is a difficult time for us,
how is it for our residents?

Brookvale is a Jewish Care Home based in Prestwich North Manchester. We care for 75 mentally and physically handicapped residents over the age of 18 who reside here permanently. Our residents span a wide range of ages and abilities. Our oldest residents have been with us for over 40 years and a couple have been with us for over 50 years. We care for residents from 14 local Authorities as diverse as Gateshead to London and across the country. 

“Our dedicated staff have upped their game,
staying longer with the residents than
they would normally”

Parents choose Brookvale for many reasons, our beautifully manicured
12-acre site includes every possible amenity you can think of. We have a Hydrotherapy pool, a mini golf course, indoor and outdoor gyms, and music therapy rooms all on site. We are a fully kosher home supervised by the Beth Din and offer a full Jewish social calendar with the support of many local Jewish and religious groups from Greater Manchester. All our residents live in beautiful ensuite facilities that are clean, bright and contain all modern monitoring systems.

We have tried to ensure that firstly, their home is just that and not an institution. A full timetable of tailored events begins each morning and continues throughout the day right through the evening.

I have been fortunate to be chairman of this wonderful home for 20 years and during that time we have built a home we are all proud of.

So, going back to the question: how is it affecting us now?

As I write this short piece on May 14th , we are delighted that to say that the virus has not penetrated Brookvale and all our residents and 80 staff members are safe and healthy. I am well aware the extreme situation that most care homes are currently suffering, and we are not taking this epidemic for granted, far from it. Our CEO, Carl Richmond, took the decision to lockdown on day 1 and we have advised all our excellent staff not to take any chances. If they don’t feel quite right, have a temperature or a family member is having symptoms, they are told to “stay at home” and isolate. We have guaranteed all our staff full pay and made sure they have not had to worry about not working. If they don’t feel well, we provide three meals a day for our staff so they don’t have to eat out, go for lunch or stop off for a coffee on the way to work in hope of reducing the risks. We have stopped all visitors, all parents visits and have had to stop the five special needs day care residents from attending.

This has been difficult for all. Friends and family that our residents see every day have stopped coming in and we have had to work harder to make sure they are fully entertained. Carl, has purchased several iPads so the residents can speak to their families whenever they want, and our dedicated staff have upped their game, staying longer with the residents than they would normally, and not one of them has asked for overtime. We are very fortunate and grateful indeed to all our team.

Our residents are used to socialising in the greater community, such as synagogue visits, theatre shows and the cinema - thanks to our very kind patrons. So, because we want to ensure social activities don’t stop, we are doing them all in-house. Friday night shabbat services continue and a full programme is still ongoing. Our staff even arranged a VE day celebration with a disco, food, and picnics on our grounds so, for them, it was business as usual.

This week, Carl has introduced PPE for all our staff as a precaution. This is a scary thing for our residents and we have tried to make them feel comfortable, especially when most of them don’t really understand what is going on in the outside world. We will, like other homes, feel the pain in the increased running costs, the cost of PPE alone for our 80 staff is already hurting, on top of the extra wages we must find.

Our priority is our residents and staff. It’s our job to ensure continued love and support for them.

We say happy staff give better care and to them, myself, and all our families - we are indebted.

If you would like more details on Brookvale please visit our website
or contact myself Danny Savage


Photo courtesy of Danny Savage