“Have we become indifferent?! It’s just shocking that this has become part of our routine.”

As we look back on the many tragic effects of the corona pandemic in 2020, there is yet another grim and alarming statistic to consider. In 2020, ZAKA volunteers dealt with 157 horrific incidents of elderly and destitute people who were discovered in their homes, in a state of decay, days and even weeks after death. This represents a shocking 20% increase on last year (130 cases).  The red cities include Jerusalem (18 cases), Beer Sheva (13 cases) and Petah Tikva (12 cases).

Most, but not all, were elderly people living alone, with no-one to care for them or check on their well-being – a situation exacerbated by the isolation and lockdowns that characterized 2020. In every case, these were people living alone who died alone. It was only when neighbors noticed the horrible stench emanating from the apartment, or water flowing from a bathroom, that someone remembered that they had not been seen in a while – and called the police.

I must ask, Have we become indifferent?! It’s just shocking that this has become part of our routine. ZAKA volunteers will continue to fight with all their might for those elderly, lonely, and destitute people to save their lives. We are the Jewish people who care for our fellow man.  Yet, we are the ones who find our loved ones in the most demeaning situation there is. We have lost our humanity. ZAKA will continue to lead campaigns and raise awareness among neighbors to save the lives of these lonely individuals, with a small act of kindness – knocking on the door once a day to prevent the next horrific death.