We continue the interview with Rav Chananya Chollak describing the founding of Ezer Mizion
Those days, the organization did not yet have a name. “Here, too, we saw special siyata d’Shemaya (Divine help). The more the activity grew, the more money was needed to support the system. The question arose – how will we get money? Just at that time, my uncle, Rav Benzion Bamberger, Mashgiach in Ponevezh Yeshiva, passed away suddenly. It was on Succos and it was a great shock. He was just 60 when he died.
“It occurred to me to perpetuate his name. I suggested to his talmidim (stuents) to make donations in his memory. I went in to Rav Yaakov Edelstein zt”l and to Rav Yitzchak Jacobowitz zt”l and they signed on the first letter of support in history for Ezer Mizion. And so, the organization was given the name “Ezer Mizion,” named for my uncle Rav Benzion Bamberger.
When you see the mighty chessed empire that Ezer Mizion operates, it is hard to believe that this is how it started. We are sitting in Rabbi Chollak’s office and trying to understand the secret of this marvelous organization, which boasts the largest network of volunteers in Israel and creates in people fervor and identification that you don’t find anywhere.
The answer to this question, it seems, is intertwined with the early days of the organization, and it is simply: Truth and devotion.
When you see Rabbi Chollak and see how he committed his entire life for others, it is absolutely clear. All hours of the day, he is busy helping the sick. We are talking about total commitment. Days and nights, he is busy listening to the pain and the needs of Am Yisrael (the Jewish people) and giving help. And not only on weekdays. On Shabbat, too, Rabbi Chollak’s home is wide open — to lost children who some anonymous person deposited at their doorstep until their parents could be located, and to every other kind of help that is funneled to the famous home in Ramat Elchanan in Bnei Brak.
“The network of volunteers is the result of many years’ work,” says Rabbi Chollak. “From day one of the organization, it has been built on volunteers, and it’s ‘contagious.’ You see your friend so dedicated to the neighbors whose mother has cancer l”a, and your Jewish heart cannot remain unfeeling. What do you do? You, too, offer help… After you offer help, you become attached to the family. You see the sweet little boy in fourth grade who has no one to learn with him Shabbat afternoon and you have him join your learning with your own children. That is how brotherhood is created. That is how the Jewish heart expands and helps more and more.”
As we speak with Rabbi Chollak, serious cases needing his attention are coming in all the time. One of the heartrending cases is that of a chatan (groom) a month before his wedding, who was just diagnosed with cancer. “Your perek Tehillim (Psalms) will accomplish more,” says the chatan’s father to Rabbi Chollak, when he opens the door. “You, with your merits, have greater power than all the medications.” Rabbi Chollak hears the details and sends him to the Medical Referrals Division, so that they will get involved and help as soon as possible. to be continued