What Else Can We Do For Them

Golden-ager visiting museum of his youth

He had actually lived there. It wasn’t just a museum exhibit for him. Every detail was part of his youth. He had so much to add. So much color to each display. Each detail he shares is a validation of his own persona, a strengthening of his self-image. There was just one problem. He couldn’t get there on his own.

Years ago, David Arev would frequently visit the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center Museum. But since he became a nursing home resident, travel was impossible. And so there he remained, languishing in the home, his individuality fading as he began to blend into the woodwork and become one with the institution in which he resided.

Until an Ezer Mizion   volunteer approached him. Would he like to participate in the Fulfil -a-Wish program? He leaped at the opportunity and, transported by an Ezer Mizion ambulance,  it was not long before he, together with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, found himself at the museum where he had spent so many happy hours.

Senior visiting Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center Museum

David and his wife are Iraqi-born and were children at the time of the farhud (the pogrom or “violent dispossession” carried out against the Jewish population of Baghdad, Iraq, in June 1941, immediately following the British victory in the Anglo-Iraqi War. The riots occurred in a power vacuum following the collapse of the pro-Nazi government of Rashid Ali while the city was in a state of instability.) They both joined the Zionist Underground Movement and later made aliyah to Israel where they married.

At the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center Museum, they enjoyed a guided tour. In the course of the tour, they stopped the guide several times to explain to her on their own about the items on exhibit and share with her their extensive knowledge and hands-on historical experiences.

Like during covid when patients spent so many miserable days and weeks isolated in hospitals with no contact with family, Ezer Mizion was there for them with ‘care packages’ filled with pick-me-up items to embrace them with love and caring. Aesthetically packed cosmetic packages with everything from shampoos, Q-tips, fragrant soaps, creams and warm slippers. Comfort packages with cake and chocolates. Packages of hope and good cheer, Ezer Mizion style.

Corona may pull them down but Ezer Mizion picks them up

The Fulfil a Wish Program is typical of Ezer Mizion sensitivity that stems from the organization’s founder, Rav Chananya Chollak – the ability to zero in on what is needed and find creative ways to provide it.

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Impossible?

Thinking out of the box with corona

Rules! Usually beneficial but sometimes to the disadvantage of those they are attempting to help. Overriding them. Impossible! Impossible unless a caring, creative entity comes on the scene.

A family in Tzefas – all corona patients. During their illness, the small daughter suffered third-degree burns. She was hospitalized and her condition was serious and worsening. The child? Alone in a strange, frightening environment without the emotional support of Mommy. The parents?  Terrified and unable to visit their precious daughter.  The emotional torment was agonizing. They knew that a mother’s touch was a powerful medication to recovery. Yet there were those normally beneficial but now so frustrating rules. They called Ezer Mizion, “There’s probably nothing you can do but we don’t know where else to turn …”

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Corona Alumni at Work

Corona ‘alumnae’ trained as hospital volunteers by Ezer Mizion

Moshe Leon, the Mayor of Jerusalem whose vaccination has reached the effective stage, expressed his interest in seeing the work of the staff in Hadassah Hospital from up close. The staff was at that time tremendously overloaded caring for more than 130 Corona patients, most of them serious and complex cases and some of them in critical condition, on mechanical ventilation.

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No Matter What is Needed

Deeply ingrained in the Ezer Mizion volunteer is to ‘be there’ both practically and in spirit with the needs of those suffering from life’s crises. It may be sharing tears when the prognosis is not good or it may be sharing smiles at a festive party like that which took place recently with Ofri who celebrated her last treatment, Note her grin. Doesn’t it say it all!

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And in Time of Crisis…

They came regularly with a burning desire to help, almost never missing their scheduled day. It was not honor that pushed them to don hot, uncomfortable ‘spacesuits’ and go from bed to bed dispensing compassion that would bring a rare smile to the face of their patients. For some it was dialing the phone number of a family member so that they could hear the voice of a loved one. For others a drink when they had lain there for hours unable to procure a glass of water or perhaps it was a delivery of goodies baked especially for the patient by a loving daughter. Or silently holding the hand of a patient on a ventilator. And for too many, it was saying Shma (core prayer) as their souls ascended with no family member able to be there.

It was not honor that drove these dedicated Ezer Mizion volunteers but now, as the situation eases, it was others who felt a powerful desire to honor them, to acknowledge the impact of the Ezer Mizion volunteers on the national disaster.

Rabbi Chollak , Founder of Ezer Mizion together with the Ezer Mizion senior staff members and branch directors were invited to the Knesset for a ceremony and national recognition with MK Moshe Gafni chairman of the Knesset’s financial committee. Yisrael Yeret, director of the Ezer Mizion Jerusalem branch and Moshe Hillel the activity coordinator were honored with a certificate for their selfless devotion, caring and professionalism during the Covid crisis, assisting all those in need throughout the pandemic.

Another prestigious ceremony was held at the Asaf Harofeh hospital in Beer Yaakov.
During the thick of corona, Ezer Mizion worked alongside hospitals across the country recruiting and training people that had recovered from covid to assist in the corona wards with whatever necessary to ease the workload of the nurses and medical staff. Even such basics as feeding patients and bringing drinks could not be handled by the overloaded staff.  The Ezer Mizion volunteers literally saved lives.

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And in Time of Crisis…

They came regularly with a burning desire to help, almost never missing their scheduled day. It was not honor that pushed them to don hot, uncomfortable ‘spacesuits’ and go from bed to bed dispensing compassion that would bring a rare smile to the face of their patients. For some it was dialing the phone number of a family member so that they could hear the voice of a loved one. For others a drink when they had lain there for hours unable to procure a glass of water or perhaps it was a delivery of goodies baked especially for the patient by a loving daughter. Or silently holding the hand of a patient on a ventilator. And for too many, it was saying Shma and Vidui as their neshomos ascended with no family member able to be there.

It was not honor that drove these dedicated Ezer Mizion volunteers but now, as the situation eases, it was others who felt a powerful desire to honor them, to acknowledge the impact of the Ezer Mizion volunteers on the national disaster.

Rabbi Chollak , Founder of Ezer Mizion together with the Ezer Mizion senior staff members and branch directors were invited to the Knesset for a ceremony and national recognition with MK Moshe Gafni chairman of the Knesset’s financial committee. Yisrael Yeret, director of the Ezer Mizion Jerusalem branch and Moshe Hillel the activity coordinator were honored with a certificate for their selfless devotion, caring and professionalism during the Covid crisis, assisting all those in need throughout the pandemic.

Another prestigious ceremony was held at the Asaf Harofeh hospital in Beer Yaakov.
During the thick of corona, Ezer Mizion worked alongside hospitals across the country recruiting and training people that had recovered from covid to assist in the corona wards with whatever necessary to ease the workload of the nurses and medical staff. Even such basics as feeding patients and bringing drinks could not be handled by the overloaded staff.  The Ezer Mizion volunteers literally saved lives.

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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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Appreciation Down the Line

We’re there for you for the big things and the small

Ezer Mizion’s ‘ Corona Alumnae’ have selflessly volunteered to help others now suffering as they did, not so long ago. A group delivering cake to hospitalized patients received the following note:

On behalf of the patients here in the ward, we want to thank Ezer Mizion for the delicious cakes that your volunteers brought us and gave out to everyone with all their hearts from the world outside.

(You might not believe this, but we actually saw patients licking the cake crumbs!! For real!!)

The volunteers passed the appreciation down the line to those volunteers who had baked the cakes.

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Corona Caregiving for the Elderly by Ezer Mizion

Corona Innovation:  Ezer Mizion will be providing nursing caregivers for elderly quarantined and corona patients.  Caregivers either immunized or recovered from corona will be trained by Ezer Mizion to be able to provide a treatment response for elderly quarantined patients whose needs are unmet during this time due to safety restrictions.

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Corona Alumni

Corona Alumni Volunteering at Corona Ward

Avichayil is a science teacher but her real expertise lies in math. Avichayil knows – really knows – that subtraction is the best way to add. She lives quite far from Hadassah hospital and her twice weekly traveling to volunteer in the corona ward subtracts many hours from her schedule but adds so much to her life.

     “I live alone. All of my children live out of town. The volunteering does a lot of good for the person who does it. It fills you; it’s so important to give of yourself to others. There is no lack of whom to give to nowadays. My children also volunteer, to the extent that they can, and my parents, too, used to volunteer in the past. They taught me all my life to look for how I can make the day brighter for someone else. That’s what I was taught and that is how I train my children and my students, too.”

Avichayil was one of the first corona patients. When she was well, she spotted an Ezer Mizion ad looking for volunteers in the corona ward. .She has been volunteering devotedly over the past few months, coming to every Corona ward or room where help is needed, even on Shabbos and Yom Tov (Sabbath and Holidays): “Suddenly, I’m on the side of the caregiver and it’s amazing! After all, I understand what the patients are going through. I know the feeling when family is not always present nearby and I’m familiar with the loneliness. I have experience: I, too, had the virus. She is now able to say to her patients, “ I was here in this very ward.” It gives them hope.

One of the 50 Ezer Mizion volunteers in the ward, Avichayil dons the hot and clumsy ‘spacesuit’ twice a week. The ‘corona alumni’ volunteers have become a vital part of the hospital community  Due to the tremendous overload weighing on the caregiving staff, help was needed to provide an adequate human response, a listening ear, and aid in things like serving a cup of coffee or a drink of water, helping patients eat, and other simple everyday actions. She and the other former corona patients become the listening ear for the patient suffering from loneliness. “It means so much to them,’ she says’ for someone to be there to give them a sip of coffee, to recharge a phone so they can talk to a family member. We’re the liaison between the patient and family. A message from a daughter will light up a wan, discouraged face. .  “I am part of a wonderful project. We fill the vacuum with real love. The patients become part of our own families and we become part of theirs!”

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