From the Ezer Mizion Files

Dear amazing Ezer Mizion family!

I’ll never forget that moment. I was in the middle of an important call with a serious client. Dozens of calls from a number I didn’t recognize kept interrupting with annoying beeps. Finally, I had no choice but to apologize and take the other call. In the background, I could hear sirens and shouts. My son’s friend screamed into the receiver, “Yoni was hurt in an accident and they’re taking him to Hadassah!”

I ran down six floors on foot, stopped a taxi and zoomed to Hadassah Hospital. I got there together with the ambulance. Yoni was wheeled directly into the operating room, with serious injuries to his extremities, damage to internal organs, and hemorrhaging in his brain. The doctors didn’t give him a chance. I summoned my wife and the whole family. We stood for hours next to the operating room, praying and organizing prayers for his recovery. And then you came, with hot food and kind, encouraging words. That was our first encounter, and since then, we’ve been meeting every day.

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We’re there When It Hurts – Now in Teveria

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People have problems and Teveria is no exception. Until now, residents have been serviced by the Ezer MIzion Haifa branch but now, thanks to the Ohana family, Teveria will have its own branch. Representatives of the Ohana family spoke in the course of the Inauguration event and elaborated on the tremendous importance of opening additional branches of Ezer Mizion throughout the country. “When Ima passed away, we had no doubt that the best way to eternalize her memory would be through a respected organization like Ezer Mizion. Ezer Mizion is there for those who need it and we are certain that there is no greater merit for Ima than the establishment of a branch here in the city.”

The new branch will provide support to patients and their families via a broad range of services, including ambulances, volunteer drivers, meals, loan of medical equipment, volunteering, light household help for families of patients, after-school clubs for special-needs children, and more.

Varied services for the ill and disabled have been an integral part of Ezer Mizion’s programs since its inception in 1979. Listen to some comments from Ezer Mizion staff and volunteers and share our pride in the accomplishments that you, our friends and supporters, made happen:

“I got a call from a woman crying so hysterically that I could hardly make out what she was saying. The next day I got a call from the same woman full of smiles and effusive thanks. ‘I married off my son last night. My mother has been waiting for this day for over twenty years. It was unthinkable that she would not attend. We thought we could manage the wheelchair but on the night of the wedding we saw how impossible it was. We struggled. We cried. My mother cried. We were about to give up when someone suggested calling Ezer Mizion. In moments, there you were at our doorstep. Like a knight in shining armor. My mother traveled in comfort and dignity in your ambulance set up for the mobility impaired. When she alighted, she was glowing with joy as the revered Bubby of the chosson.’ “

And this one – an emotional call from a volunteer right after he dropped off a hot meal for a cancer patient who would find it too difficult to prepare food for himself: “I can’t believe it. Till this second, I am still stunned and in shock. The man poured his heart out to me and said, ‘This cancer caught me. I don’t have food. This – this is all my food to this day. My money is all used up. There’s no money left.’ ” (Of course, appropriate Ezer Mizion departments got right on the case.)

The festive inauguration  and affixing of the mezuzah of the new Teveria branch was attended by Hagaon Rav A.D. Auerbach shlita;Ezer Mizion International Chairman Rabbi Chananya Chollak; Commission Chairman Boaz Yosef; Chairman of the Religious Council in Teverya, Yaakov Shitrit; Director of Social Services in Teverya, Rivka Ben Elisha; and Yossi Navah, Director of Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes Institutions. Also in attendance were Kobi Ben Akiva, NCO commander of the Chareidi sector; Shlomo Tausky, coordinator of Linked to Life Northern Region; and many, many public figures, social activists, volunteers, and residents of the city.

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Our Treasured Volunteers

Sometimes we have to wait until the World of Truth to see it. But sometimes it is so clear. Like the Bluestones who are owners of a well-known Israeli firm that manufactures fashionable clothing, makeup and jewelry bags. In spite of their many business responsibilities, they devote a great deal of time to volunteering for Ezer Mizion. One of the recipients of their chessed is a disabled, elderly man for whom Mr. Bluestone delivers meals regularly. Meals are not all he delivers. With the food he brings caring, genuine interest in the details of the man’s day and an upbeat, cheery ambience.

A friendship developed between the two and it was only natural that when the elderly senior was hospitalized with no family support, Mrs. Bluestone cooked a complete array of Shabbat dishes and they both spent Shabbat together with him in his hospital room.

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Nobody’s Baby…Everybody’s Baby

Everybody’s baby being loved by one of the many volunteers

He began life as nobody’s baby but it wasn’t long until he became everybody’s baby. . Refael was a deliciously, sweet baby but so very ill. In deep pain, his parents abandoned him due to the overwhelming burden of caring for their child.  An uncle contacted Ezer Mizion, the address for so many who don’t know where to turn. “Until an adoptive family can be found, please, please can Ezer Mizion provide the human love and warmth, so vital to a baby’s well-being?” And that is when he became everyone’s baby. Since then, Refael has not been alone. The Ezer Mizion volunteers surrounded him with tenderness and affection. Day and night, summer and winter, Shabbat and Yom Tov.

One day, the uncle asked Refael’s mother to come and just take a peek at her son. “Just for a moment. Then you’ll leave. You don’t have to go near him. Just a quick look. A mini-visit…” She was hesitant. True, it was just for a moment but emotionally it could take such a toll. She was afraid. “I can’t! i can’t! it’s too much!” The uncle persisted. He called again and again. Eventually, he wore her down. “Just a peak. I won’t go near him. just a quick look.”

She peeked – and was “caught.” She saw him held and oh so loved by a volunteer. She watched as another volunteer came to take over. From across the room, she felt the vibes of their love. For the baby. For her son. In tears, she said, “If Am Yisrael embraces Refael with such devotion, then he isn’t alone anymore…And I am not alone…I’ll have support…Perhaps…Perhaps I can do it. Ezer Mizion will be behind me, I can feel their strength. Perhaps my baby will have a mother after all…”This week, Refael will be released to his home, the home he will see for the first time since his birth.

Love and warmth. That’s what Ezer Mizion is all about. A message appears on the Ezer Mizion Linked to Life screen.  A 28 year old oncology patient is celebrating her birthday…Who is on board to help make her a grand party? I’m in, I’m in…The positive answers instantly clicking in…In no time we have: An awesome cake, balloons, creams, perfume, chocolates, makeup and more.

It’s midnight at the ER. Patients have been waiting for hours. They’re tense and worn out. And then like a dream, the Ezer Mizion stand appears. With snacks and hot drinks. With smiles and encouraging words. Love and warmth — it’s catchy! A posting appeared in the media and a call was received from a mother of Emunah, a Bas Mitzvah girl.  Can she celebrate her daughter’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah by volunteering at the Midnight Stand. Mazal Tov, Emunah. What a beautiful way to celebrate this special milestone.

They don’t forget – those recipients of the Ezer Mizion love. Last week, a woman came to the Ezer Mizion Center to personally deliver a donation to Ezer Mizion and a copy of her new book. “Twenty-four years ago, a few years after we’d moved to Israel, my husband needed a heart transplant. We didn’t know where to start. A friend of mind said, ‘Call Ezer Mizion.’  I remember it as if it was today. Ezer Mizion sent us someone named Benny Meyer. He was an angel. He took us under his wing and guided us step by step through the confusing and painful period. Ever since then, Ezer Mizion holds a special place in my heart. I have an automatic donation going out to them from my account every month and all profits from my new book will go to – where else – Ezer Mizion.  So – here is the first installment…”

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The LegoMan and His Unicorn

For years Maor Cohen, aka the LegoMan, has been volunteering at Ezer Mizion providing lego workshops for those dealing with cancer. The lego projects are both distracting and able to give a feeling of a future to those who sometimes dare to wonder if they will have one. Frequently he shares the joys of remission with the families he has become so close to. And too frequently he also shares their sadness…

Recently, people have been calling and asking me to speak.

It seems that people think my work is something worth hearing about.

I don’t have an organized speech, not even a PowerPoint presentation.

When I speak, I speak from my heart.

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Always Our Good Boy

Avi was always our good boy. The reports we always received about him expanded the heart and filled it with pride. Avi always had to be the best boy in the class and get the highest grades. With hindsight, we should have  been alerted to the  problem but we were too busy enjoying all the joy. In elementary school, too, he was at the top. We had no doubt that he would go to a high school.

And then, the principal called us in for a talk. He claimed that for Avi’s sensitive personality, a yeshiva with warm, personal attention would be better than a huge, bustling yeshiva. He was very definite but we knew better, so we thought. We felt that Avi could manage in a bigger place, too, and that, on the contrary, he would flourish there. So we sent Avi to the Yeshiva that we’d wanted from the start.

At the beginning of December, we sensed that something was awry with Avi. In Tevet, we were worried, and in January, we got a call from the Yeshiva office to come urgently to take Avi home because he wasn’t feeling well. When I came, I found him in his room, staring at the ceiling. He was apathetic and hardly communicated. I took him directly to the family doctor. He referred us for some tests, but claimed that Avi appeared to be physically healthy and he was concerned that he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

The days that followed were too hard to bear. We didn’t know where to turn and how to help our precious young man who was wilting before our very eyes. He lay in bed and refused to go out even for prayers.

He barely ate anything and refused to shower or go for a walk. Nothing interested him.  The smell in his vicinity was unbearable and the entire family was traumatized by the sounds and sights that emanated from his room.

We needed help desperately but how can we ask? We are the parents of a top student, aren’t we? We advise  others less fortunate than us- those unfortunate people with problems? It can’t be that we have become them! it was so hard but our son, our dear son. we can’t let pride – that great destroyer of lives – get in the way of helping him. Then we remembered some bits and pieces we had heard about Ezer Mizion having  a Mental Health Department. 100% confidential.  Should we? But… Well, we did.

Of course, it wasn’t simple. there was much trial and error. The staff held our hand throughout the ordeal.Their sensitivity was amazing. Avi received the right therapy and we received the emotional support that was so vital.

During the last eight months, Avi’s functioning has improved tremendously thank G-d and he recently started learning in a yeshiva near the house, with a small number of boys. He gets warm, personal attention there and has already integrated into the social circle and resumed a schedule of three study sessions a day.

I feel that Ezer Mizion saved Avi, me, and, actually, the entire family

Avi’s father

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Completing the Circle

It was an idea.  A good idea. Would it end up by the wayside like so many other ideas?

It was the year 2005 and the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry was seven years old. The registry was growing and had saved many lives but, for too many, the response was No Genetic Match Found: a virtual death sentence. More registrants were needed.  Registrants of varied ethnicities. Young ones. Young cells have been proven to be much more successful and, in addition, the high cost of genetic testing would be offset by the potential donor remaining on the database for decades.

The IDF was the obvious choice but would they agree to offer each new recruit the option of signing up for the registry? There were many bureaucratic hurdles to overcome and the idea never would have seen the light of day without the help of MK Elazar Stern, then Director of Manpower in the IDF. His gargantuan efforts bore fruit and the momentous IDF-Ezer Mizion agreement was signed. Almost immediately the numbers began to skyrocket and, to date, 2,625 lives have been saved by those who registered upon recruitment. 

Can you imagine, then,   the grin of delight on the face of a registry staff member as she searched for a match for the latest request and came up with the name: Amichai Stern!

Amchai (26), son of Elezar Stern, lives in Belgium and the registry tried unsuccessfully to reach him. Timing is vital for a cancer patient and it was decided to call his father.

“I was in the Knesset when a call came in,” Elazar Stern recalls. “They asked if I was Amichai’s father. When I confirmed that I was, they gave me the basic information and asked if I wanted to contact him. Boy, did I! It was one of the most exciting calls of my life. Right then and there, I called my son and everyone in the office heard his excited ‘Wow!!! You mean I can save someone’s life?!!!!!!!!!’ He was thrilled and so am I, of course. It is a great privilege. It is a dream to be a match. A tremendous joy.”

Amichai is at the beginning of the process and, in his words, “I will do everything I can to ensure that this will work, even if it requires my returning to Israel. Life is a supreme value.” 

We pray that the transplant will go smoothly and the patient will receive the ultimate gift – the gift of a future. If they both agree, in a year’s time, they will meet. Amichai’s father will join the much anticipated event as will other family members of each side. Tears will flow. Hugs will be exchanged and the circle begun sixteen years ago will then be complete. 

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Farewell to my Sister!

A message from an Ezer Mizion cooking corps volunteer to her fellow volunteers

Beloved friends, dear sisters, who give of your time, money, and energy to the community,

It is just hours to Shabbat and I can picture all of your activity from the side — without excuses, without looking for outs… charitable acts performed with your own hands. I want to share with you some of the feelings in my aching, weeping heart.

Two days ago, I lost a sister… a dear sister whom I never met to this day, a sister who shares common parents with us — Ezer Mizion…

So sadly, my journey of a year and a half with this dear, beloved “sister,” mother of 9 children, has come to an end. After a year and a half of suffering, she returned her pure, unsullied soul to her Father in Shamayim (heaven).  We both tended to those children over the last year and a half; she continued to love and miss and worry about them, though she could not really raise them. And we were zocheh (merited) to accompany her family for the last year and a half with rice, chicken, meat, soup, schnitzel, desserts, nosh, etc.

I was so sure that I’d end my task by giving her a big hug and returning the cooking scepter to her kitchen kingdom. But Hashem (G-d) wanted her at his side, pure and glowing. And I, apparently, will continue escorting the pained orphan children for a while longer.

I am telling you this because I was at the funeral. I cried so hard that I felt real physical pain. A five-year-old boy said Kaddish (prayer for the deceased)… A three-year-old girl looked for Mommy… I felt that I had no more strength to cook, that it was very hard for me, that I, too, am in mourning. Who will comfort me? I so wanted to meet her.

Today, when I came to be comfort the mourners hurting, broken, and sad — I emerged stronger and, above all, with the energy to continue. And this is what I want to bring to you.

It was seeing with my own eyes the little children, the pure mouths that never sinned, eating what we brought; feeling that I love them like my own children; that they are flesh of my flesh; that what my children ate, they ate, too, nourished by what my children were nourished. (Our children knew that we always buy a double amount of nosh, half for us and half for them…)

I heard from the aunts how the children spoke about the delicious food and how the deceased was such a fine person and was always there for everyone; how she loved her children and felt so bad that she could not do things for them; and how calming it was for her that they had food, and how much she blessed me…

But what was most chilling for me was what I heard from her mother, an amazing, righteous woman who took care of her daughter for the last year and a half with endless devotion. She said again and again: “Your hands should be blessed… your hands should be blessed! You can raise them to Shamayim (heaven) and ask Hashem (G-d) to fill them with all good things!”

I want to pass her words on to you and to say, “Your hands should be blessed… your hands should be blessed!” One of the highest level of charity is to actually feed the needy, and that is exactly what you do. Thanks to you, children grow and develop, physically. Their new son-in-law (married a half year) told me — and I’m passing this on to you, too: “You should know that the food you prepared for the family was a matter of real hatzalat nefashot (saving souls)!!! Without this food that you prepare during people’s difficult times, they would not have the strength to get through this period.”

“Your hands should be blessed… Your hands should be blessed… Your hands should be blessed!” Now, while you are cooking, lift your holy hands up to Hashem and ask Him for all good things! May Hashem give you the strength to continue more and more to give, to cook, to do… May He fulfill your heart’s desires for the good and for a blessing. May we hear of no more tragedies in our midst. And may we all merit much joy.

One more thing that my husband said to the father of the family : “In an army, there are the fighters, and there are those who make sure they have what to eat. You are the fighters, who went through such a difficult nisayon (test), and we are the quartermasters.”

May these words and the chizuk (strength) they engender be l’iluy nishmat (for the elevation of the soul of) Chaya Beruriah bat Menashe.

.

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SPECIAL REQUEST: HELP US HOST CHILDREN/TEENS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS IN OUR SUMMER CAMPS!

We currently have 12 children and teens with special needs who applied to Ezer Mizion’s summer camp but don’t have a way to cover the cost. For them and for their parents, Ezer Mizion summer camp creates lifelong memories, as it infuses their challenging lives with sunshine and fun in a safe adapted environment. It also enables their families a well-deserved break, to recharge and refresh.

Children/teens with special needs have retreat days entitlements from the Social Services Ministry which they save up the whole year to pay for camp. But these 12 kids come from the most difficult home situations. Their families have used up all the entitlements just to be able to keep going, long before summer was on the horizon.

Please help Ezer Mizion host these kids for summer camp. A scholarship to cover the missing funds is $800 per child.

We need a total of $9,600 to be able to accommodate all 12 of these kids and give them a great summer.

Sponsor summer camp for a special needs child – all or in part – today!

https://www.ezermizion.org/donate-to-ezer-mizion.html (Please write ‘summer camp for special needs’ in dedication field)

$
Deficit
$
Participant
Fees
$ Government FundingTotal
$ Cost
Total
Participants
Staff + VolunteersCampers# of sessionsCamp
$649,665$36,923$1,116,075$1,802,6633,0601,6501,4108Special Needs Children
$46,234$52,154$214,043$312,4311,150501,1007Mental Health
$892,308$0$0$892,3081,0901309603Cancer Patient + Family
$1,588,206$89,077$1,330,118$3,007,4015,3001,8303,47018TOTAL
https://www.ezermizion.org/donate-to-ezer-mizion.html (Please write ‘summer camp for special needs’ in dedication field)

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SPECIAL REQUEST: HELP US HOST CHILDREN/TEENS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS IN OUR SUMMER CAMPS!

We currently have 12 children and teens with special needs who applied to Ezer Mizion’s summer camps but don’t have a way to cover the cost. For them and for their parents, Ezer Mizion summer camp creates lifelong memories, as it infuses their challenging lives with sunshine and fun in a safe adapted environment. It also enables their families a well-deserved break, to recharge and refresh.

Children/teens with special needs have retreat days entitlements from the Social Services Ministry which they save up the whole year to pay for camp. But these 12 kids come from the most difficult home situations. Their families have used up all the entitlements just to be able to keep going, long before summer was on the horizon.

Please help Ezer Mizion host these kids for summer camp. A scholarship to cover the missing funds is $800 per child.

We need a total of $9,600 to be able to accommodate all 12 of these kids and give them a great summer.

Sponsor summer camp for a special needs child – all or in part – today!

https://www.ezermizion.org/donate-to-ezer-mizion.html

(Please write ‘summer camp for special needs’ in dedication field)

2021 SUMMER CAMP FRAMEWORKSleepaway/
Day Camp
# SessionsPARTICIPANTSSTAFF AND VOLUNTERS
Special Needs (boys, teens/young adults)Sleepaway2500550
Special Needs (girls/teens)Sleepaway2450550
Special Needs (Haifa, Northern Israel)Day Camp180120
Special Needs (Jerusalem, Central Israel)Day Camp1250350
Special Needs (Netivot, Southern Israel)Day Camp113080
Cancer (Patient + Family) – 3 RetreatsSleepaway3960130
Mental Health Rehab – 5 RetreatsSleepaway51,10050
TOTAL 153,4701,8305,300
https://www.ezermizion.org/donate-to-ezer-mizion.html

(Please write ‘summer camp for special needs’ in dedication field)

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