When the Doctor Ordered Smiles

When the light is out in your living room, what do you do? Simple. Just flick a switch. What about when the light is out in the eyes of a heroic 12 year old girl? That’s much harder. But that’s what Ezer Mizion is there for and, once again, the Linked to Life network rallied and the light went on. 1000 watts! She had been battling cancer for what seemed to her and her family to be eons. They handled each problem as it came with trust in G-d. Some were harder than others. Recently it became necessary for this young child to have her leg amputated. They understood. It would save her life. But it was so hard. To think of her living for the rest of her life – may it be many, many years – missing a leg! While still in the throes of dealing with this devastating catastrophe, the calendar informed them that her bas mitzvah had arrived. The prime ingredient of a celebration is smiles. And, at this time, there were none to be had. That’s when the Ezer Mizion Linked to Life network was informed and a post went out. “Today we are going to restore light to the girl’s eyes. Today, she will go to sleep happy and content… with a wide smile, and will wake up with a lot of strength to keep going.” And then it began to pour. Her home was flooded. A stunning Bas Mitzvah cake. Goodies galore. Balloons with grinning emojis and encouraging messages. Gifts and gifts and more gifts. It was a major storm of caring and support. And suddenly the smiles abounded. They’d make it through. Now they knew they would.  Vitamin Encouragement is a strong medication.

Yael is another young girl engaged in the same war. Like any other17 year old girl, she has dreams. It’s so hard to hold onto dreams when so many of her days are spent in a hospital setting but Yael doesn’t give up. She studies hard for her matriculation exams. Some days giggling with a friend and some days attached to an IV pole. She is determined, our Yael. Determined to have the best possible future. And in her busy life, she makes a place for fun also. Meir Odesser is one of those talented people who can bring joy to the most depressed. He comes regularly to Ezer Mizion and puts on a fantastic show of twisting balloons into animals and the like.  Yael loves the show but she wants more. She wants to learn how to do it herself. Meir was thrilled to bring added happiness to this special girl and spends hours giving lessons and, most importantly, blowing a surge of optimism into each and every balloon.

 Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.

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Because of You!

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A Midnight Inter- office Text from an Ezer Mizion Director

It’s close to midnight. Forgive the late hour, but I just can’t restrain myself. I must share this with my fellow staff members. 

Two hours ago, I got a phone call from one of community movers and shakers saying that an elderly community leader who has done so much for others is now in dire need himself.  He was just given an urgent referral to the hospital ER. He was shaken and was now confronted with a night at the ER, facing the unknown alone during the dark, frightful hours when he so desperately needed the comforts and familiarity of his own home.

I was asked if it might be possible to expedite the process.

I called Moshe Charash, Director of Ezer Mizion’s Medical Referrals and Advocacy Department and asked him what could be done.

I was told that best doctor for this medical issue is in Tel Hashomer. The patient is in Haifa. Not good.

And the doctor is off duty at night. Even worse.

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Dr. Rachamim Melamed-Cohen

Ezer Mizion’s Augmentative and Alternative Communication Program: Giving a voice to those who cannot speak

“There’s a very special person I’d like to tell you about. He’s written many books.”

“Very nice,” you reply with a slightly bored expression.

“With his eye.”

“With his what???!”

“Yes, with his eye. His name is Dr. Rachamim  Melamid-Cohen.

Twenty-five years ago, at age 58, Dr. Melamed-Cohen was diagnosed with ALS. He was married with six children, a PhD in Special Education, a leading position in Israel’s Ministry of Education, a pioneer of special education programs throughout the country when his world fell apart. He had felt weakness in his shoulder which spread down to his arm and then his fingers.  One Friday night, as he was making Kiddush, the cup shook and the wine spilled. Something seemed very wrong and he, together with his wife, Elisheva, began to make the rounds of neurologists until finally receiving the dread diagnosis of ALS.  He was told that all of his organs will eventually lose their ability to function. Eventually, a fly will land his nose and he will be dependent on others to brush it away. ‘You have 3-5 years to live’ said the doctors, three of whom were no longer alive themselves 12 years after his diagnosis.

Within two years, he’d lost the ability to eat using his mouth. Seven years after diagnosis, he was totally paralyzed and connected to a respirator. All too soon, only his eyes were functioning.

But he refused to give up.

Ezer Mizion’s Alternative Communication Division was at his side. He was provided with an eye-tracker system, a highly complex device which Ezer Mizion was able to successfully train him to use. This gifted him the ability of communication, learning, social involvement and constant personal growth – despite his debilitating disease. The Click2Speak eye gaze controlled virtual keyboard, which was developed by Click2Speak in collaboration with Ezer Mizion, was another device that he enjoyed using, claiming that this tool truly improved his quality of life by enabling communication and environmental control through eye movements.

Since then, he wrote 20 books on many topics: research, poetry, education, and prose. Filled with joy of life, he learned how to create pictures digitally. Ten exhibits of his pictures, drawn with eye control, have been displayed in Israel and abroad.

Dr. Melamed-Cohen corresponded with people around the world, wrote articles for newspapers and used vast digital resources to prepare for Torah classes that took place in his home every day – all accomplished using computerized eye control.

Dr. Melamed Cohen passed away in November 2020 at the age of 83 after a fulfilling life that was enriched through Ezer Mizion’s AAC developments.

Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.

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Angels from Heaven

An Ezer Mizion ‘stranger’ becomes family

She was eighty years old. Life was difficult. But a home attendant? “Never! I don’t want a stranger in my home!” But things got worse and ‘never’ became ‘maybe’. Ezer Mizion’s Home Attendant Division was contacted and Tzivia entered Sara’s home. One year later on Chanukah, Tzivia found balloons awaiting her as she entered. “These are for you,” Sara smiled. “For you, my Chanukah miracle. Since you came, I felt I have a daughter. Today our friendship is a year old, and I, too, feel like I am a year old, because I am a new woman since you entered my world.” Several days later, Sara fell and broke her arm.  The ambulance came but Sara did not go alone. Tzivia accompanied her, spent hours of her free time in the ER with her. It was not long before Tzivia’s husband arrived at the ER to bring them both food and drink.  Still retaining her independent streak, Sara was appalled, “I feel so bad that your husband had to go through so much trouble just because of me.”

“If I am your daughter, he is your son-in-law. We’re your family.  Family members help each other. “

Sara was too choked up to reply but her eyes said it all as she gazed with wonderment at her family, the ‘strangers’ she had not wanted to allow into her home.

  • A father is battling cancer. Their situation was heartbreaking: The mother was torn between hospital, where her husband needed her attention, and home where their five children, two of them with special needs, were left alone at home for hours, without proper meals, supervision or occupation. Ezer Mizion got to work… Our fantastic volunteers contacted the director of Ezer Mizion’s services for children with special needs, who arranged for the girls to go to an afternoon club, complete with meals, help with schoolwork, and quality attention until five in the afternoon.

Two volunteers visited the parents in the ward, bringing cake and support, showering them with warm encouragement.

Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life took care of delivering hot meals cooked by Ezer Mizion volunteers  to the house on a regular basis.

A home had been on the verge of collapse. Now it was shorn up with planks of love and compassion. The wife of the cancer patient couldn’t stop thanking Ezer Mizion for all this magical support that descended upon her!

  • From the Ezer Mizion Inbox:

 Our family is dealing with my cancer which is so stressful for everyone. Between not knowing if mommy will be home when they get home from school to having to eat strangers’ food, life has become unpredictable for my kids. 

You can imagine our surprise when someone came to our door on Chanukah with two big bags for the kids (treats and presents!). 

Thank you for bringing a smile to my children’s faces and may you continue to do your holy work. 

All the best,

Sarah B.

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From Our Files

Be happy and proud, fellow Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life members!!!  Until you are there (like I am) you cannot know how vital is the chessed we do. Our son, Motty, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Since the diagnosis, he’s already undergone two complex brain surgeries to remove the growth, both of which met with great success, thanks to the Jewish nation’s prayers!

These days make us feel like a little child who depends on the adult crossing the street with him for his safety. That is exactly how we feel: that Hashem is holding our hand and is walking us through all parts of this life journey.

And only when you are there, in the hospital ward with the other children at home and it’s time to light Chanukah candles and the other children are waiting for a smile from Abba or Ima, but you’re not there…You call Linked to Life and in moments, its ‘magic carpet’ whisks you away to where your  heart is.

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Because of You!

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The Number that Everyone Knows

Ezer Mizion is there whenever there is a need

When she was in Auschwitz, Malka did not believe there would be any future for her. Yet here she is now at the age of 101 (!) with children grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-greats. She is so grateful for what she has but she wants more. More family time. More nachas. She hasn’t seen her family for months And so she opted to take the covid vaccine. But taking the vaccine was easier said than done. How will she get to the HMO where it is given? It didn’t take long for her to remember the number that everyone in Israel knows by heart and call Ezer Mizion to discuss her plight. “Of course,’ came the cheery reply. “Ezer Mizion Ambulance Service will set up an appointment for you. They will carry you downstairs in a wheelchair if need be, help you every step of the way and then take you home again, all vaccinated, soon ready to see your family once again.  

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Dying with Dignity…Dying with Love

Romania reports Newcastle disease outbreak on farm | WATTAgNet
Covid restrictions prevent daughter in Romania from being with her sick father

Readers may recall the daughter of an elderly corona patient who was unable to leave Romania to be there for her father due to covid restrictions. A walker for her father– what would normally be a simple request – became a major undertaking and it was only after many, many calls back and forth from Romania to Israel and to various departments at the hospital and at Ezer Mizion that Devorah, director at Ezer Mizion , was able to procure  one. The daughter was ecstatic and couldn’t stop thanking Ezer Mizion. But her joy was short-lived.

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Ahuvi

My legs are disabled but my mind is doing just fine

For most of us, the word ‘I’ permeates our conversation. I feel, I believe, I am worried about. But what exactly is that ’I’ ? We don’t think so much about the question since our various parts work together. We think of an idea, dial a friend to discuss it, click on the mouse to research it, walk to the appropriate place to procure what we need. But then there are the people whose parts do not work together. They’re bright, intelligent, creative. They have opinions. An idea may percolate in their minds but they are not able to make the phone call, use a computer, walk to the nearest store, speak to friends. And so the idea remains. Crying to be developed. Aching to be shared with others. Eventually deteriorating and dying the death of all its predecessors. And the ‘I’? The ‘I’ becomes embittered and withers away into nothingness.

There it stands, a picturesque chalet surrounded by luxuriant foliage in a rustic village located in Nechalim. From a distance it exudes a quiet loveliness but come closer and you’ll see that it is anything but quiet. Everywhere you look, there are motorized wheelchairs and their owners are going from here to there, busy, busy, busy, very intent on achieving their goals. Their goals are many – these severely handicapped young people. Some are unable to walk, others unable to speak but all have talents, opinions, desires.

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