A non-profit holds a Chinese auction. Employees are asked to go above their job description and contact friends and relatives to purchase tickets. And what is their reaction? Eye rolling? Whispered complaints at being put upon? Attempts to get away with a minimum? Or none of the above? The Ezer Mizion staff would be shocked at such suggestions. Each request sent out by employees to friends had a note attached, many entitled ‘Why We Work Here’. Here are some samples:
At Ezer Mizion, somehow, cancer always takes center stage. The bald head, the boy with the bulging eyes, together with the fear that lurks deep in the heart of every one of us. My job is coordinating rides. Not front page material. But for the young mother spending months in the hospital with her preemie, it meant a breather every so often, time to spend with her other kids.
Running such a system of transport, meals— costs money. And this money has to come from people like me and you. From people who can understand why the transport system is a lifesaver, and how, with a hot meal, you can give someone life and hope.Continue reading Why We…
Let’s define ‘big’. When speaking about a business, does it refer to a company whose offices fill a large, imposing building? Or perhaps a company with branches around the world? Or does it, perhaps, refer to a company whose heart is big enough to see past the bottom line and put effort into the needs of the population that support it? Continue reading What Is Big?
Many years ago there had been a place called Lottie’s kitchen. It was a small kitchen in a home teeming with chessed. Lottie, a culinary expert, produced trays and trays of goodies which were largely consumed by her many friends. They would gravitate to this island of warmth and compassion to discuss their personal woes with a woman who seemed to have never-ending patience.
Lottie and her husband and partner in chessed, Chaim, have since passed on. Their four daughters deemed it appropriate to found Lottie’s Kitchen in Israel under the auspices of Ezer Mizion. It is there that nutritious, attractive meals are produced, packed and delivered to family members sitting at the bedside of a hospitalized loved one. Women of all ages volunteer– from teens to the sprightly 85-year-old golden-ager who makes her way to Lottie’s Kitchen with a walker. She had been a chef in her younger years. Her day at Lottie’s Kitchen enables her to make use of her skills and offer advice to the younger set. For the elderly, it is a two-way chessed as it enables them to have structure to their day and meet with similarly minded women as they work.
Israel hospitals do not provide more than basic medical care for its patients. The nursing staff is unable to take the time for the little extras that can make all the difference to a patient’s spirit. A family member therefore, tries to be there for as much as possible of the 24-hour day. Running from work responsibilities to home responsibilities and then making a mad dash to take over a shift at the hospital does not leave the caretaker much time or emotional space to even think of her own needs. A coke and a bag of chips from the hospital vending machine will often be her only fare for weeks. Distraught, tense, worn out, a mother will sit with her six year old, trying to distract him from the constant question of “Mommy, when will Hashem make the leukemia go away?”
And then, like an angel, there enters a Lottie’s Kitchen volunteer with a steaming hot, delicious meal. She’ll offer her a chance to talk, to share her story, to ask advice. Mommy can’t believe it. Someone is caring for the caretaker!
Orders are filled – some of them very specific. Any meals left over at the end of the day will be given to the dialysis patients who find it so difficult to go back to normal routine just hours after treatment.
Nechama, the head cook, considers herself just a small cog in the wheel of chessed. But those at Lottie’s Kitchen know that it is she that creates the ambience of giving, of loving. More and more. The Lottie’s Kitchen Family was treated to a trip to pray at the holy places in Israel. Nechama would have loved to join but she realized she would have to cut corners in her cooking. To give ‘her’ people anything less than perfection was unthinkable. So she opted out, citing a quote from the Chofetz Chaim’s book, Ahavas Chessed, that doing chessed is an especially opportune time to pray. ”I won’t lose out at all,” she assured her friends as they boarded the bus.
Lottie’s Kitchen, one of the many divisions of Ezer Mizion, an empire of chessed.
A full night’s sleep is a rare luxury for Rav Chananya Chollak, founder of Ezer Mizion. Those that need him are told that they can call anytime and they do. It is not unusual for his phone to ring at 3:00 A.M. Rav Chollak hears a panicky voice of a son, whose father is terminally ill and on oxygen. “The tank is almost empty! What should I do?!” Rav Chollak’s soothing, caring voice calms the son. Another tank arrives almost immediately. Rav Chollak does not return to his bed until he is certain that it has come, is set up and the father is doing well. His phone remains at his bedside, ready for the next opportunity to help another Jew. Continue reading Behind the Scenes at Ezer Mizion with its Founder, Chananya Chollak – A Three Part Series
It’s hard work. Ditza is exhausted each day as she makes her way home, usually quite past her official hours. She needed a bit of encouragement to put some verve into her steps. Recently that encouragement came in the form of two ‘notes from heaven’ showing how much Hashem values her efforts. Continue reading Meals on Wheels: Lottie’s Kitchen
I was trying. Friends and relatives were also helping. The situation was beyond hopeless and I was helpless to keep things together. I had three children in three separate hospitals, located in various parts of the country. One was in a mental hospital, two in medical hospitals. Can you imagine the anguish, the sights I witnessed daily? The despair when I had to leave one to visit another. The tiny bewildered faces at the window at home watching Mommy leave…again. The exhaustion- both physical and emotional. The frustration when twenty-four hours were far from enough in each day. The astronomical expenses incurred on top of less money coming in. Continue reading Hospital ‘Rounds’ via What’s App
Hello. I was in Sharei Tzedek hospital, staying with 2 grandsons about 2 weeks ago. I flew in from NJ to help our children. I came from the airport to take a shift at the hospital with no food. Someone from your organization came around delivering food to people who weren’t patients. It was beyond amazing! My daughter and I were just discussing how we could get lunch and you showed up! Unbelievable! Thank-you! It was the best lunch ever!
Every Friday night, in every Jewish home, a platter of roast chicken appears on the table and the cholent can be heard bubbling in the crockpot. We take it for granted. It always was and it always will be. Until one week when it isn’t. No mouth-watering aromas emanating from the kitchen. No frantic calls of, “Put away the game right now and set the table. Shabbos is in eight minutes!” No Mommy standing quietly by the flickering candles, praying for those she loves. Where is Mommy? The mainstay of the home? The creator of the Shabbos atmosphere? Mommy is in the hospital, undergoing chemo. And even though the clock reads past the time for sunset, Shabbos, as the family knows it, had not yet entered their home. Grandma lives miles away in California and Abba, utterly devastated by recent events, is hardly functioning. Ten-year-old Chavi spreads peanut butter on bread to feed herself and her siblings. Continue reading Shabbos Meals for Familes of Patients