Yaakov was about to become Bar Mitzvah. Let’s peak into his home to watch the goings on: the frantic calls to the caterer, the late night trip to exchange the hat for a larger size, the sisters pirouetting about in their new finery. But there was none of that. No happy excitement. Not a drop. There were late night trips but they were to the ER, not the hat store. During this what normally would have been a most joyful period in Yaakov’s life, both of his parents were battling cancer.

Yaakov’s family had already benefited in so many ways from Ezer Mizion’s Yad Yehudis Chana Cancer Support Services, the cancer support division that services the religious sector. It was only natural that they took over the organization of Yaakov’s Bar Mitzvah, one of approximately thirty in the past year. It would have to be small due to his parents’ condition. Small but certainly cheerful and festive. The Ezer Mizion volunteers got to work producing all that was needed including lovely miniatures to grace the sweet table and a special Bar Mitzvah cake. The mother sat comfortably on a chair which the director had brought from his own office.  Yaakov had his first aliyah (honor of reading a portion from the Torah) and was blessed by his father afterwards.   It was a memorable occasion with some of the last memories Yaakov will have of his father who parted from his beloved family just ten days later. Forever.

 Ezer Mizion continues to accompany the family on their difficult journey in the hope that the mother will have a complete recovery. Staff members raised money to cover renovations in their home to accommodate a wheelchair and for the purchase of a Dutch bed, an attractive piece of furniture with the features of a hospital bed. The enthusiasm among staff members was contagious, each one looking to do more and more. 

Yad Yehudis Chana Cancer Support Services, in memory of Rebetzin Judy Kalatzky A’H, serviced 731 families from 55 cities and towns in Israel in 2020. A total of 31,000 weekday meals and 21,000 Sabbath meals were provided to families in their homes over the year in addition to Sabbath baskets with complete Sabbathneeds delivered to families spending the Sabbath at the hospitals.

Transportation to and from hospitals and clinics, mentoring for children whose parents are not able to be there for them during this difficult period, a game library, emotional therapy, support groups and domestic help are some of the services provided by Ezer Mizion’s  Yad Yehudis Chana Cancer Support Services.

Corona was challenging for people universally. But for families with a close loved one who is struggling with cancer, corona was a veritable upheaval. Cancer patients were considered hi-risk and – where everyone was cautious – cancer patients and their families had to be super careful to avoid COVID infection. Many children did not go to school or kindergarten or to friends or to the park – even when lockdown was long over – in order to protect their dear one from infection. Through this long and challenging period, where many families struggling with cancer were additionally challenged by an already disrupted home situation, Ezer Mizion was there for them in every way that we could be, to assist, sustain and empower. While at Ezer Mizion we adhered to strict and frequently changing Ministry of Health corona regulations, we found ways to adapt our services and keep them available to our target population. The summer retreat, a favorite of these families, had to be canceled but, notwithstanding extremely complex logistics, 68 families were hosted separately on mini-vacations. On behalf of Yaakov’s family and all those who benefited from Yad Yehudis Chana Cancer Services, thank you from the bottom of our heart to all of you whose generosity enables Ezer Mizion to accomplish so much!