Two weeks ago, I was one of the fortunate ones to receive my first vaccine dose and as I came home Boris Johnson was on television sharing his positive roadmap out of lockdown restrictions. It was a day of heightened emotions – firstly the team at the vaccine centre were brilliant and then there stood our PM speaking about the light at the end of the tunnel. Fast forward two weeks and I am sitting at my kitchen island with an espresso in hand, smiling whilst writing this article, as I have just dropped my kids at school. For the first time since December, I am able to enjoy a day of uninterrupted work!
Last year was a year unlike any other, both personally and professionally. MDA, as with other charities, suddenly and overnight were required to change the way in which they worked – gone were the days of dinners and communal events, and in its place were Zooms, webinars and crowdfunding campaigns. We were very fortunate, thanks to our generous supporters, in that as 2020 drew to a close, our income was up on 2019. However, I am acutely aware that 2021 will be a very different year once more. Firstly, I believe it will be a much tougher year in raising funds as many of our high-net-worth donors are reliant on commercial property rental income and many of their businesses have been decimated due to the pandemic. Secondly, there are only so many crowdfunding campaigns one can run.
As I wrote about earlier, that light at the end of the tunnel will, I believe, create the desire for people to get together once more. All eyes are on the 17th May and 21st June dates for a partial and then complete relaxation of social distancing and our return to some kind of normality. MDA UK is therefore hedging its bets and is working on celebratory events for MDA’s 91st birthday with its committees around the country, planned for the 6th June, and then a series of speaker events and dinners planned for later this year.
Perhaps even more exciting than this, is the potential opportunity to travel once more. Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic’s charismatic CEO, recently stated that he believes there will be a travel corridor between London and Tel Aviv by the summer. Our supporters (led by me) are chomping at the bit to travel once more, and I have no doubt that once the borders open, there will be a huge influx of tourists and businesspeople alike to Israel. With that in mind, we are launching our postponed Israel 360 Jordan trek, which this time starts in Amman where we will be guests of the Jordan Red Crescent, before heading south to Petra and Wadi Rum and then into Eilat. The trek will then head up to Rahat, the largest Bedouin town in the world, where the 2019 trekkers and our new Young MDA committee have funded the rebuilding of a much-needed ambulance station within the town. The journey then concludes at the site of the new National Blood & Logistics Centre in Ramle, which is a remarkable and much needed $120m underground Blood Centre. As we bid farewell to our trekkers, we welcome this year’s legacy mission participants for a five-day tour of Israel. Here, we offer a sponsored trip to Israel in return for a legacy left in a will.
What I find most interesting about the Covid-19 pandemic is how we have all been in it together. Usually, when we think of disasters in Israel, we think of war or potential natural disaster, as Israel sits on two geographical fault lines. However, this time round it’s Covid and Israel, and MDA led the way in terms of testing, plasma extraction and the vaccination rollout. As with the status of the UK, a huge percentage of the population of Israel have been vaccinated, and it is thanks to MDA and the Government of Israel that it is likely to be one of the first countries that us Brits will be able to travel to.
So, as we move ahead and closer to Pesach, this year being another quiet Zoom Seder, we shall sit around the table and instead of saying “next year in Jerusalem,” I am quietly confident that we shall be saying “this summer in Israel.”