More than 1500 attendees participated in “The Road to Resilience,” a virtual US-Israel conference held on November 2 and aimed at exploring cutting-edge ways of mitigating social crises in the post-Covid reality. It was organized by Latet Israeli Humanitarian Aid, the largest nonprofit combatting poverty and food insecurity in Israel.
The first conference of its kind, the event harnessed collective wisdom from the US and Israel related to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and explored new approaches to tackling current and worsening social problems. A mix of politicians, thought leaders, businesspeople and social activists joined four lively panel discussions: From Covid-19 to Poverty-21, The Fight Against Food Insecurity, Challenges Faced by the Elderly, and Social Responsibility in High Tech. Panelists and speakers included Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO, Feeding America; Eric S. Goldstein, CEO, UJA Federation of New York; Michael Balaban, President and CEO, The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia; and Tomer Bar-Zeev, Co-founder and CEO, ironSource.
Among the themes covered were connections between rising poverty and social inequality, the growing disparity between wealthy tech titans and those struggling to meet basic needs, and the need for Americans, Israelis and others to join forces to combat these global challenges.
“The way we will get through this is together. When someone can’t figure out how they’re going to get to the next day, whether they live in the US or Israel, the challenges are the same. How we look at solutions has to be done together. We must share resources,” said Jay Sanderson, President & CEO, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
Latet’s Founder and President Gilles Darmon echoed the importance of unity in the face of mounting social problems and observed that the pandemic represented a watershed event in the history of social welfare movements. “We have the opportunity to build together collective intelligence that will enable us to increase the scope of our activity in the field because all over the world, we will be looking for the same solutions. We have no other choice if we want to find the road to resilience.”
Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO, Feeding America, underlined the importance of meeting the crisis head on: “We are in the middle of a moment that is rich with opportunity for positive change and fraught with risk if we do not choose to change,” she said.
Latet’s annual Alternative Poverty Report (see HERE) recently found that since the start of the COVID pandemic, hundreds of thousands of families in Israel have experienced financial difficulties and that COVID-19, and the economic crisis that followed, have worsened the distress of low-income families, who were suffering even before the pandemic. According to the report, 656,000 (22.6%) families live in nutritional insecurity in Israel, and 799,000 children – 32% of Israeli children – lack access to nutritious food.
In his remarks, His Excellency Isaac Herzog, President of the State of Israel, commended Latet for its positive impact, adding that he hoped more people would be inspired by Latet’s efforts. “If we wish to realize the vision of the founders of Israel, we need to be leaders not just in tech unicorns, but in Tikkun Olam. We need to be a center not only of high tech, but also of high moral leadership.”