An Israeli rabbinical organization has created what it claims is a unique volunteer system for the distribution of food and basic necessities to the elderly and other homebound Israelis amid the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

The Barkai Center for Practical Rabbinics and Community Development, an organization dedicated to building Israeli society by bringing Diaspora models of community-building to the Jewish state, created the system in conjunction with the Modi’in Municipality.

Barkai rabbis and other members appointed neighborhood “captains” who set up WhatsApp groups to mobilize volunteers and to be in direct contact with those in need in each of Modi’in’s neighborhoods to ensure the necessary food distribution packages.

“Our community-building model has meant that we were ready to step in and create networks to ensure those in need receive the food and other necessities they so badly need during the coronavirus crisis,” said founder and dean of Barkai Rabbi David Fine. “We see that this model can be replicated in cities and towns across Israel in a speedy and smooth manner, so the elderly and other homebound Israelis receive what they so desperately require during this difficult time.”

The project involves more than 250 volunteers who deliver cooked meals to the elderly and other homebound residents in each of Modi’in’s 13 neighborhoods three times a week. Each package contains sufficient prepared food, including meat, carbohydrates and vegetables, for two days.

In addition, the volunteers deliver food from supermarkets to hundreds of elderly and homebound Modi’in residents. When the volunteers deliver the packages, they ask the recipients how they are and if they have any further needs, and alert both the Modi’in Municipality and Israel’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services to update their national database, which tracks the condition of elderly and infirm citizens across the country.

“We deeply appreciate the networks and food distribution model created by the Barkai team, and we recommend and encourage other municipalities to copy them,” said Deputy Modi’in Mayor Amiad Taub, who holds the social-services portfolio in the municipality.

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