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Israel Is Aiming to Vaccinate Holocaust Survivors Around the World

Coronavirus vaccination in Israel

Israel is doing a pretty extraordinary job administering the coronavirus vaccine to its citizens. More than 2 million Israelis have already been vaccinated, and the country seems to be on track to vaccinate most of its citizens by March. It’s currently one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to successful vaccine distribution.

And now, Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs is hoping to bring these successful vaccination efforts to a population around that’s very much in need, and whose lives and legacies need to be preserved: Holocaust survivors.

Israel’s Diaspora Minister, Omer Yankelevitch of the Blue and White Party, is spearheading efforts to get Holocaust survivors across the world vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. “80 years ago, the pandemic of antisemitism threatened to destroy the Jewish people,” she wrote on Twitter. “That pandemic didn’t have a vaccine.”

“Today, we have the privilege to repay, even a little, those who survived that tragedy and to provide them with protection against the coronavirus epidemic,” she continued. “This is the moral imperative that every Jew carries in their heart: to show Holocaust survivors that they will never march alone.”

Yankelevitch has ordered the Shalom Corps — a global volunteer organization that the ministry helped establish — to take charge of the logistical aspects of this huge undertaking. According to Israel Hayom, the Corps are currently in touch with medical shipping companies as well as with Israel’s Ministry of Health, which, according to the Diaspora Ministry, will work with Moderna and Pfizer to assist in vaccine procurement effort. 

The vaccines will be given at designated centers in each country where survivors reside, and those who can not travel to the centers due to health concerns will have medical professionals come to their homes and administer the vaccines there.

The ministry hopes to secure funding from Jewish philanthropists for the effort and to purchase the vaccines, which will not come from the allotment of vaccines currently designated for Israeli citizens.

This highly ambitious plan has been met with criticism, however. According to a piece published today in the Forward, “the project is widely expected to run into a variety of financial, logistical and diplomatic hurdles.”

Nonetheless, despite accusations, this is merely a “political stunt” — Israel is, after all, facing yet another election — we’d love to see this plan come to fruition, or at least, see more Holocaust survivors in the diaspora get the vaccines they truly deserve. With the population of Holocaust survivors dwindling, keeping them healthy and safe through the pandemic is of paramount importance.

Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/picture alliance via Getty Images

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