The Other Side part three

Recap: They were there. They lay in the hospital beds, or sat next to family members for long hospitalizations. They know exactly what it feels like — the paralyzing fear, the loneliness, and the helplessness.

Hospital patients and their families become volunteers

They know the importance of a sister’s outstretched hand, accompanied by a genuine sense of partnership and the knowledge that even though you walk in the darkness — you are not walking alone.

We turned to five volunteers who had been on the other side, on the dark, painful side, and who promised that the moment they were able to, they’d help others — and then carried out their promise.

Riva Levi, 39, married, with five children

Riva got to know Ezer Mizion through her father’s  hospitalization. Every day, the Ezer Mizion volunteers would bring her and her family tea, coffee, and pastries “I had no idea how significant this help is. And then, suddenly, I was in that position myself, on the receiving end. That’s when I decided to join to help people who were going through what we went through with my father.” When Riva’s father passed away, she decided to take upon herself to help others, l’iluy nishmato (for the merit of his soul). “I help bring clothing for ironing, drive patients to their doctor, and bring hospitalized patients things that they needs. “Sometimes, when you are in a situation of distress, the only thing you need is to know that you’re not alone.”

Batya Amsel, 35, mother of five sons and a nurse by profession

Batya came to know Ezer Mizion during her husband’s illness. Since neither she nor her husband had a driver’s license, they benefited on a regular basis from the Transportation Division who helped them get to the hospital and back. “It is hard for me to describe the relief and the heartwarming feeling given by the volunteers after a draining stay at the hospital,” she shared.

Over the years, she prayed to be on the giving end.  She learned how to drive and her first trips were for others, via Ezer Mizion. She’s been volunteering for over a year, with a sense of mission. “You cannot take away the pain of the hospital from patients and their families, but you definitely can ease and sweeten the experience.”

Ido Bennett, 25, from Raanana

Ido met up with Ezer Mizion eight years ago, when he was stricken with cancer

He calls Ezer Mizion “my second family.  During treatments, the volunteers were there with him at every given moment. During one of the summer vacations, he joined Ezer Mizion’s retreat, together with his family. “On the last day, Rabbi Chollak got on stage. He told us that his dream is to see us, the patients, coming to the retreat one day as volunteers.. “This sentence buzzed in my head like a bug. I decided that I was going to recover and go over to the other side and volunteer.”

Today Ido volunteers for Ezer Mizion. And this year, he joined the staff and volunteered in the summer retreat, precisely where he’d gone as a patient. His dream had come true. “I joined Ezer Mizion because I know that nothing else interests them beyond doing good. And I knew that through them, I’d be able to give to others, precisely as they gave to me. To know that you have the power to help others — there’s no better feeling than that.”

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

We’re There When It Hurts

Cancer support at Ezer Mizion encompasses the whole family

“But Ima promised. For sure shell be back! She told me before she left!!” Shevy’s young heart broke as she tried to absorb the news. She was only eleven, well, almost twelve, too fragile to handle the bitter disappointment. Too small to comprehend the big picture. Not to have her mother at her side for her Bas Mitzvah? To celebrate without Mommy’s support? It was unthinkable. Yet it was happening and Shevy was inconsolable.

Shevy felt a hand on her shoulder. A warm hand, a loving hand. The same lady who had been helping their family since Mommy went to America for treatments.   It wasn’t Mommy but it was someone who cared. “Your eyes are such a pretty shade of blue. Let’s go shopping for a Bas Mitzvah dress. Maybe we can find something to match your eyes.  Something really pretty. Would you like something with lace?” Bit by bit, the Bas Mitzvah party took shape through the efforts of Ezer Mizion.   Yes, there were tears but they were outnumbered by the smiles. A gorgeous dress! Balloons! Gifts! The fanciest sweet table in town! And hugs… and love. Ezer Mizion: We’re there when it hurts.

Cancer support with love

And even when it hurts us. When our efforts to offer support will tear our own hearts to shreds. When the thought of what we are asked to do leaves us limp and shaky but we know it will help a family who is undergoing a horrendous crisis that no one should ever know of.

Cancer support till the very end

When we are asked to transport a little girl from the hospital to her home and back again. Her last trip home. To enable her family to say goodbye. Before she leaves this world. Forever.

Shuki Becker, one of Ezer Mizion’s devoted Ambulance Division members, undertook the assignment. Equipped with an oxygen tank and the paraphernalia to monitor her closely during her stay and armed with a prayer book to give himself the strength to support this precious soul in her last hours, this angel began the trip that meant so much to her family. 

Ever so gently, she was brought to her favorite spots in her home. Ever so gently, her family spoke to her, caressed her. Over and over they talked of the funny stories they had shared, her favorite foods she always chose for her birthday supper, the time she won the game three times in a row.

They were scheduled to leave for the hospital at seven o’clock but the family couldn’t let go.

Another memory. Another fun time. Another ounce of love to add to the package she would be taking on her final trip.

Her numbers looked good and so the visit continued. Parents, grandparents, siblings. Each reaching out and giving of themselves. A lifetime of love condensed into a few short hours. And then it was time to say the final goodbyes. Final.

May Moshiach come soon to wipe away our tears.

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

The Kinches Family Command Center

It’s called ‘making a difference’. Making a difference in the lives of courageous people who are faced with life’s crises. And sometimes it is making a difference by actually saving lives.

A long-time Queens resident together with his family have truly made a difference in the lives of so many with their recent donation of a Command Center- an office on wheels-  to Ezer Mizion.  Dedicated by Allan Kinches, Reuvaine and Joyce Kinches and Elliott and Nicole Kinches in loving memory of Marilyn Kinches, Morris and Ann Kinches, Norman and Geraldine Katz, Norman Kinches, the Command Center has already begun helping Jews worldwide.

The new Command Center had made its debut on Lag B’Omer. The logistics in coordinating the myriad of details involved in facilitating transports for the elderly, the disabled and the ill   by Ezer Mizion’s Ambulance Service are complex indeed. The Kinches Command Center trailer played a major role in facilitating ambulance transport for mobility impaired people up and down the mountain. It has a full IT setup, with computerized map displays of the entire Meron area. The trailer has its own AC and generator and was set up with its own land-line phone system for coordinating the trips to and from the ziyon of Rabbi Shimon and the entire team. (Land-lines are used for greater reliability. Last year the cell phones at Meron all crashed, and Ezer Mizion was the only communication source, via land lines. Ezer Mizion land-lines were then shared with Hatzalah for their vital work.)

Continue reading The Kinches Family Command CenterFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Meron 2022

Preparations for Lag B’Omer are going full speed ahead.

Keeping everyone safe on Lag B’Omer at Meron

70(!!!!) Ezer Mizion male staff members are on site. The logistics are huge.  Ambulance drivers,  transport escorts, technical setup and management staff. Roles have been assigned and preparatory meetings were held. Included in the tasks are staff members in charge of collaboration with the police and local authorities, synchronization with others in the field at Meron,  protocol for varied situations: the expected and chas v’shalom the unexpected. Two huge tents are set up for use of the tireless Ezer Mizion team – one for sleeping and one for a kitchen and dining hall, plus toilet facilities – everything with lighting and A/C.

Ambulance transport for mobility impaired people up and down the mountain is a major undertaking synchronized via an Ezer Mizion Command Center trailer with a full IT setup and with computerized map displays of the entire Meron area. The trailer has its own AC and generator and its own land-line phone system for coordinating the trips  to and from the ziyon of Rabbi Shimon and the entire team.

Helping the elderly, the disabled, the weak up the mountain at Meron

Last year the cell phones all crashed, and Ezer Mizion was the only communication source, via our land lines. We gave one of our land-lines to Hazalah for their vital work. (The police were the only ones that had mobile phone communication when the cell phone systems were down last year, which they do via satellite).

By request from the police, we have one ambulance in Meron since Sunday when it did 42 runs in one day, taking elderly, seriously ill and mobility impaired people up and down the mountain (84 trips…) to daven at Rabi Shimon’s kever, a small hint of what is yet to come on the big day itself.

May all the tefillos be well received. May everyone who visited Meron return inspired, encouraged, empowered, uplifted, safe and sound.

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

He Who Orchestrates the Footsteps of Man

The home was permeated with sadness and the tears didn’t stop. A young father passed away, leaving a helpless widow to bring up her babies alone. Little Shmuly* would learn to read from a siddur and there would be no father to look on in pride. Bar Mitzvah’s, weddings with no smiling father at the head table.  They searched desperately for a wisp of straw to hold onto. Something to give them a bit of comfort in their devastation. A family project for the elevation of his soul. A chessed to help others. Something that would save lives so that other families will not have to undergo such shattering pain. A decision was made and money was raised to purchase a much-needed defibrillator for an Ezer Mizion ambulance. The money was raised through generous donors, the paperwork taken care of, the defibrillator purchased and the file closed. 

But the Heavenly file is never closed and He orchestrates every one of our steps. And so the story unfolds. Last week Nuta, an Ezer Mizion ambulance driver went on his daily rounds using the ambulance with the defibrillator purchased for the elevation of the soul of the young father. With list in hand, he stopped at the first noted address to bring a woman to the clinic for medical treatment.  A standard, routine assignment. Wheel her into the ambulance, strap the wheelchair securely.  Suddenly the assignment was no longer routine. “Urgent! Urgent!” His Hatzalah beeper beeped. “Cardiac arrest! Urgent! Urgent! Go to Rechov xxx Number xxx.”   “ Go to??? That’s where I am!” Instructing the family to remain with the patient in the ambulance, he grabbed the defibrillator and raced upstairs. Seconds later there he was desperately working to save a life.

At the first possible moment, this powerful story of divine orchestration of the footsteps of man was relayed to the family of the deceased. Its impact became even more compelling as the story unfolds further. “You mean to say it happened today?! Today???!  I can’t begin to tell you what this means to us. We…we…we have been crying all day. Today is his birthday. So many memories. He was such a good father.  Such a good man. We talked of all the birthday presents we had given him. How appreciative he had been. And now, it seems, Hashem has sent us a birthday gift.” One by one, the tear-stained faces began to smile.

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Lonely No More

Holocaust survivor siblings meet after almost 2 years

Aharon Shmueli, a holocaust survivor, is part of a large family but he was lonely.  Confined to his wheelchair and further restricted by covid isolation, he and his eight siblings had not seen each other for two years. When asked by Ezer Mizion to choose a ‘wish’, it took only seconds for his decision: a family get-together. Would Ezer Mizion be able to make it happen? To bring nine elderly siblings, many with mobility problems, together? Aharon’s excitement could not be contained. “Any update?” he would ask whenever he saw the Ezer Mizion staff member. His every daydream was what he wanted to tell them, the eight people in the world with whom he shared a special relationship. As children, they lived through the horrific experience of their escape from Tolousse, France, the terror of hiding out in a farm managed by their father, scared that any moment may be their last. Together they shared the rebuilding of their lives. Marriage. Children. And now old age.  As Sara, one of the sisters, put it, “When we get together, we become children again…connected…strengthened…whole.

The senior citizen residence that was Aharon’s home became the venue and four fully-equipped Ezer Mizion ambulances were set aside to provide transportation for the Shmueli family members who were not able to travel alone. And suddenly there they were. With hugs and kisses. With shouts of joy. Once again sitting around a table together. Laughter and tears. Two years of experiences to share as only brothers and sisters can.

Azaryah Shmueli commented that “for almost two years, we didn’t get together, all of the siblings. In the past, we used to meet at least three times a year. It was really difficult to organize the meeting. Some of the siblings are disabled, some live out of town.”

At the end of their dream-like day, Aharon expressed his feelings with deep emotion.   “Thank you for making my wish a reality.”

Wheelchair-bound, mobility challenged … but together at last

Naomi Mizrachi, director of Ezer Mizion’s “Fulfill a Wish”: “It is a great merit for us to make dreams come true for elderly holocaust survivors. Even when the wish is challenging, we do everything in our power to carry it all out in the best possible way. So far, over a year and a half we’ve been privileged to make about 780 wishes come true. The wishes were as varied as the people making them for one it was a trip to the ocean, for another, it was a shopping trip at the mall. And a third wanted to get together with an old friend whose address she didn’t know. Many wished to visit the kosel(Western Wall). Or daven (pray) once again in the shul (synagogue) of their youth. Tremendous efforts are involved in working out the logistics in a manner that is safe for these precious survivors. (Yes, we found the address of the friend.) But the happiness on the faces of these holocaust heroes is well worth it. ”

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Down, Down, Down Until…

Dear Ezer Mizion Volunteers,

You know me as “Moshe the dialysis patient,” who has many other problems that are secondary effects of my kidney disease. You did not know me before, when I used to run on my two feet, get up before dawn for my Daf Yomi shiur (Talmud lecture), daven vasikin (pray early with sunrise), come home and help my wife get the children out, rush to another eight-hour work day at the carpentry shop, and then return for my shiur (lecture) in shul (synagogue) and Maariv (evennig prayers).

I was a strong person, until an aggressive bacterium attacked my kidneys and quickly knocked them out of use. I started undergoing enervating dialysis treatments 3 times a week. At first I would travel by bus, trying with all my strength to at least get to davening (prayers)and a bit to the carpentry shop. But, to my sorrow, the situation declined. Physically and emotionally.  I did not have the energy or the desire to meet anyone. I didn’t feel like leaving the house and seeing other people. I traveled to the hospital by taxi and that ate up the allotment I got from Bituach Leumi. With time, my condition deteriorated further and, today, my legs are almost non-functioning and I am labeled an invalid. My wheelchair has become an inseparable part of me.

Continue reading Down, Down, Down Until…Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Can I Help You?

‘Can I help you?’ These are words we hear all the time, usually in a commercial setting. The meaning behind them is: How can I satisfy you so that you will make a purchase and I can benefit from the profit. Rare is the meaning to be taken literally. Except with compassionate people like Ezer Mizion staff and volunteers who are searching for more and more ways of alleviating the plight of those suffering from life’s crises.

A few weeks ago, a toddler was badly burned. Ezer Mizion embraced the family with all that was needed, including daily rides to the hospital via our Linked to Life service. Two sample stories from the father:

Continue reading Can I Help You?Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

From Our 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.

Two months of prayer and nine operations are behind us; sixty days during which we sat in shifts at his bedside, hoping for a miracle. Our home was on the verge of crumbling. I’d hardly stepped foot in my workplace. My wife had barely stepped foot at home. The other kids were miserable. And then, against all odds, Yoni woke up. It took a few more difficult weeks full of medication until we got to rehab. Thank G-d, now we have been there for five months, in a process of treatments and therapies to restore Yoni’s walking ability and movement in his hands.

We owe Yoni’s progress to your ambulance network and the devoted volunteers who escort us to treatments, provide hot meals, treats and trips for the kids,  relieve us for a few hours, and help Yoni with his difficult and painful exercises. I cannot imagine what would have happened without your amazing service, given free of charge. I couldn’t possibly have financed an ambulance trip back and forth three times a week, and without that — what would have been with Yoni’s legs?

Meanwhile, we put aside ten shekels for each trip we took with you (during such difficult times, even such a minor amount is not easy to come by) and the sum came to 1,200 shekels (attached), which means that we went on 216 trips in your ambulances!

I am deeply moved just thinking of how much you saved us during those difficult days. Tizku l’mitzvos! May you merit more mitzvos!

With appreciation and admiration,

E. Stern and the whole family

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

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.

Continue reading From the Ezer Mizion FilesFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail