For thousands of older Israelis like Sara Weinsten, being housebound alone during the country's second nationwide lockdown is difficult and depressing.
"Loneliness brings back the past, and it's hard," said Weinsten, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor who lives in the central Israeli town of Yavne.
But each week ahead of the Jewish Sabbath, which starts on Friday at sundown, she gets a knock on the door that brightens her day: a home-baked cake delivered by one of thousands of volunteers bringing pastries to older Israelis living alone.
"I know that there's someone thinking of me, I'm not alone in the world," she said. "There's someone thinking about sweetening Shabbat." Israel imposed its second nationwide lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic on Sept. 18, to rein in one of the highest infection rates per capita in the world. The Health Ministry has confirmed more than 300,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, including 2,278 deaths.
"Sweets for the Soul" was started last year, before the pandemic, by a Tel Aviv amateur baker to raise the spirits of those confined to their homes out of health concerns.
"I always say that 90 per cent of the world's problems can be solved with a slice of a good cheesecake," said Itamar Glazer, 28, founder of the weekly initiative.