When Everything Else is Uncertain, My Job is to be My Residents’ Rock

“I’m Tal Ohana and I’m 36 years old. I was born and raised in Yeruham and I’ve been involved in local politics for about a decade.

While serving as Yeruham’s foreign leader for over a year, I handled strategic actions that dictated social, economic and educational resilience. The COVID-19 crisis was what ultimately transformed me into a leader who is very connected to her residents.

I informed each confirmed COVID-19 patient that he or she had been infected before the relevant authorities did. I didn’t want to wait. I did it in-person in order to ensure that they would be at home, where they wouldn’t be able to infect other city residents. I wanted to make sure that they had everything they needed for the isolation period. It wasn’t easy.

I had one conversation with someone who had potentially been infected and therefore had to undergo a test. It was five minutes before Shabbat. I keep Shabbat, although that hasn’t been too true lately. And she told me, ‘I’m not letting these testers into my house until you arrive.’ This sentence made me feel that at the end of the day, I am responsible for to each resident’s personal sense of security.

My role and responsibility towards the residents has accompanied me throughout this period, especially when it comes to trust. It was clear to me that during this crisis, when my residents were in a constant state of anxiety and uncertainty, I had to instill in them a sense of trust. My job is for them to know and feel that their city is being managed; that things are under control. That we’re operating, on top of things, and here for them. This is what increases their resilience and ultimately bolsters our resilience as a municipality.

I think this is something I’ve learned and I’ll hang on to it during both the emergency routine and the general routine.”