Well perhaps not quite that fast, but efforts were certainly put into responding to an emergency situation, with emergency speed. During normal times (if we can remember what that was!) an application for monetary assistance would be filled out, certified by a social worker, sent to the ESRA office, and examined and discussed by the Welfare Committee members. This was a process that took an average of 6 weeks. During the coronavirus period, when people were suddenly left without an income, ESRA indeed rose to the challenge. Welfare Fund Committee members, instead of holding face-to-face meetings, worked on requests tirelessly online and managed to reduce processing time down to 3 or 4 days, with the monetary transfer hard on its heels.
From the beginning of the lockdown in mid-March and up to mid-May, the committee members managed to authorize and provide financial assistance of NIS 1,000 to NIS 2,000 to no less than 53 families. They were spurred by a keen awareness of the anxiety levels of the suddenly unemployed and their need to keep food on the table. And their workload has not let up, as the number of requests continues to increase day to day.
So how does one apply? Financial aid request applications are available on our website, www.esra.org.il, in both Hebrew and English, with instructions and where to send. Our 8-10 Welfare Committee members receive the request and work together online, checking to ensure that each case meets the criteria, while applying greater flexibility in consideration of current circumstances. The ESRA office staff also continued working from home during the lockdown, and they are the ones ensuring money transfers are efficient and timely.
The Welfare Fund has for thirty years been helping people get through times of crisis - individuals, families, and students who need financial assistance to continue and complete their studies. Given the new reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so many have experienced personal crises and the need for assistance to see them through to better times. We at ESRA are pleased to have been here to help, and are gratified by the many heartfelt letters of appreciation we have been receiving (see below).
During this challenging period, donations to ESRA have been directed to the Welfare Fund so that we may assist as many people in crisis as we can. We appreciate all your donations, easily made through our website, whenever and whatever the sum. Together, we can come out of this stronger.
Some Kind Words of Gratitude:
Mirit Ben Dor, Dean of Students, College of Management
Kobi is a third-year Law student at the College of Management Academic Studies. In light of his complicated background and financial difficulties, we referred Kobi to ESRA to request financial assistance.
Today, Kobi is completing his final year of studies toward his degree. I have no doubt that he will soon find a placement for his internship and will have a successful career as a lawyer, just as he has succeeded until now, overcoming all difficulties.
The significant assistance that Kobi received from the ESRA Welfare Fund was for him a lifesaver. The extra financial support enabled him to carry on toward completing his studies, and he is deeply grateful.
Barry Heyman, Family Social Worker, Social Services Department, Raanana
The financial grant from the ESRA Welfare Fund has enabled families to lay the table with a proper holiday dinner, helped them to survive through this difficult period, and to keep their heads above water while they have no employment and no income. These parents are so grateful and thank ESRA for their assistance. It allowed them to provide for their children's basic needs, which they otherwise would not have been able to do. All the recipients are working parents, who suddenly lost their source of income. Thank you for your assistance.