Farewell to my Sister!

A message from an Ezer Mizion cooking corps volunteer to her fellow volunteers

Beloved friends, dear sisters, who give of your time, money, and energy to the community,

It is just hours to Shabbat and I can picture all of your activity from the side — without excuses, without looking for outs… charitable acts performed with your own hands. I want to share with you some of the feelings in my aching, weeping heart.

Two days ago, I lost a sister… a dear sister whom I never met to this day, a sister who shares common parents with us — Ezer Mizion…

So sadly, my journey of a year and a half with this dear, beloved “sister,” mother of 9 children, has come to an end. After a year and a half of suffering, she returned her pure, unsullied soul to her Father in Shamayim (heaven).  We both tended to those children over the last year and a half; she continued to love and miss and worry about them, though she could not really raise them. And we were zocheh (merited) to accompany her family for the last year and a half with rice, chicken, meat, soup, schnitzel, desserts, nosh, etc.

I was so sure that I’d end my task by giving her a big hug and returning the cooking scepter to her kitchen kingdom. But Hashem (G-d) wanted her at his side, pure and glowing. And I, apparently, will continue escorting the pained orphan children for a while longer.

I am telling you this because I was at the funeral. I cried so hard that I felt real physical pain. A five-year-old boy said Kaddish (prayer for the deceased)… A three-year-old girl looked for Mommy… I felt that I had no more strength to cook, that it was very hard for me, that I, too, am in mourning. Who will comfort me? I so wanted to meet her.

Today, when I came to be comfort the mourners hurting, broken, and sad — I emerged stronger and, above all, with the energy to continue. And this is what I want to bring to you.

It was seeing with my own eyes the little children, the pure mouths that never sinned, eating what we brought; feeling that I love them like my own children; that they are flesh of my flesh; that what my children ate, they ate, too, nourished by what my children were nourished. (Our children knew that we always buy a double amount of nosh, half for us and half for them…)

I heard from the aunts how the children spoke about the delicious food and how the deceased was such a fine person and was always there for everyone; how she loved her children and felt so bad that she could not do things for them; and how calming it was for her that they had food, and how much she blessed me…

But what was most chilling for me was what I heard from her mother, an amazing, righteous woman who took care of her daughter for the last year and a half with endless devotion. She said again and again: “Your hands should be blessed… your hands should be blessed! You can raise them to Shamayim (heaven) and ask Hashem (G-d) to fill them with all good things!”

I want to pass her words on to you and to say, “Your hands should be blessed… your hands should be blessed!” One of the highest level of charity is to actually feed the needy, and that is exactly what you do. Thanks to you, children grow and develop, physically. Their new son-in-law (married a half year) told me — and I’m passing this on to you, too: “You should know that the food you prepared for the family was a matter of real hatzalat nefashot (saving souls)!!! Without this food that you prepare during people’s difficult times, they would not have the strength to get through this period.”

“Your hands should be blessed… Your hands should be blessed… Your hands should be blessed!” Now, while you are cooking, lift your holy hands up to Hashem and ask Him for all good things! May Hashem give you the strength to continue more and more to give, to cook, to do… May He fulfill your heart’s desires for the good and for a blessing. May we hear of no more tragedies in our midst. And may we all merit much joy.

One more thing that my husband said to the father of the family : “In an army, there are the fighters, and there are those who make sure they have what to eat. You are the fighters, who went through such a difficult nisayon (test), and we are the quartermasters.”

May these words and the chizuk (strength) they engender be l’iluy nishmat (for the elevation of the soul of) Chaya Beruriah bat Menashe.

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Solving Problems One by One

When things go smooth, we tend to forget that it may not be the norm everywhere.  Should we move to a different location, our expectations may be in for a shock. A man recovering from a broken leg is released from the hospital to complete his recuperation at home. He is given the necessary equipment upon his release. Of course. How else can he manage?! It wouldn’t occur to us to think differently. Unless we move to another country. In Israel, the released patient is accompanied with – nothing. He is on his own. Insurance will cover certain items but the roll of red tape is l-o-o-o-o-ng. If he is unable to purchase or borrow, what is he to do?

Ezer Mizion, the answer to so many problems, maintains a Service Hub in many hospitals. A family member can stop by and a friendly, trained rep will provide him with what is needed at no cost until he has recuperated or the insurance sends a replacement. Medical advice is also available at the Hub through the Ezer Mizion Medical Referral Division. At the Hub, he can discuss obtaining a home aide from Ezer Mizion’s Home Attendant Division. Should he need transportation that will accommodate mobility challenges, that, too, can be arranged at the Hub through Ezer Mizion’s Transportation Division. Ezer Mizion Linked to Life Division will arrange rides for family members to visit him while he is hospitalized. Do the family members require meals while they are at his bedside? A quick stop at the Service Hub can have that arranged via Ezer Mizion’s Food Division. Is the family worn out and in need of volunteers to take over shifts at the hospital? This also will be taken care of at the Service Hub. In short, the Hub is the liaison between the bewildered, exhausted, often helpless family and Ezer Mizion’s many services.

Recently Ezer Mizion’s Modi’in Ilit branch coordinated the inauguration of Ezer Mizion’s Service Hub at the Shamir – Assaf Harofeh Hospital to serve patients and their families.

The event took place in the plaza near the hospital’s Emergency Room, with the participation of Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau shlita, Ezer Mizion International Chairman Chananya Chollak, Hospital Director Dr. Osnat Lev-Zion Korach, hospital department heads, medical and administrative staff, and directors of other Ezer Mizion branches and services.

Stirring speeches were delivered. Everyone wished Ezer Mizion’s Modi’in Ilit Branch administrators much success with the project and congratulated the trained volunteers. Wishes were expressed for additional collaborations in the future and that the service hub that was opened should provide a response for every person who needs assistance in the hospital and following release.

Rabbi Chollak was given the honor of affixing the mezuzah in the room designated as the on-site branch service hub. He blessed the hospital and branch administrators for joining together with Ezer Mizion to better the situation for the hospital patient and his family.

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Why We…

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Why do we work here?

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.

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food for the Body/ Nourishment for the Soul

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…

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What Is Big?

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Staff at King David Hotel preparing hot meals for families dealing with serious illness

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?Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Caring for the Caretaker

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Lottie Chalom ob’m

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.

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Volunteering at Lottie’s Kitchen

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.

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Lottie’s Kitchen volunteers delivering meals to family members at bedside of hospitalized patient

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?”

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Caring for the Caretaker

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.

 

 

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Behind the Scenes at Ezer Mizion with its Founder, Chananya Chollak – A Three Part Series

pr gen R' Chollak IMG_9149A 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 SeriesFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Meals on Wheels: Lottie’s Kitchen

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Meals on Wheels for the caretaker sitting for hours and hours at the bedside of a family member

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 KitchenFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

A Letter Meant for You, Our Dear Friends and Supporters

pr fileIf words of praise were drops of water, this page would turn into an ocean of thanks and adulation, after I experienced more than help, more than support, more than just a ride from point A to point B. Continue reading A Letter Meant for You, Our Dear Friends and SupportersFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Hospital ‘Rounds’ via What’s App

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Linked to Life: We’re all connected!

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 AppFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail