Every year on Lag Ba’Omer, thousands of Jews from all over the world traditionally gather at Rav Shimon Bar Yocha’s grave in Meron. Everyone comes with their personal story, their struggles and challenges to pray and beg for a salvation. It’s a powerful opportunity nobody wants to miss. But for many people – the elderly, disabled, wheelchair bound and handicapped, transport complications are way too difficult. For the last 15 years, Ezer Mizion has overcome a myriad of logistics and set up an ambulance headquarter around the base of the Meron mountain, shuttling people from the many parking lots up the mountain, straight to the grave.
At the entrance to Meron is our main headquarter with staff coordinating the requests throughout the day from the many people whose disabilities prevent them from hiking up the mountain.
Our 15 ambulances plus vans transport over 2000 people enabling them to pray on this day of holiness. The meeting point provides shelters with shaded tents and plenty of drinks for people waiting to be taken back down the mountain.
This awesome operation has received full backing and cooperation from the “National Center for Holy Sites” and the Israel Police
In the merit of all of us working together to provide the funds that enable the vulnerable to partake of this opportunity, may all our prayers be answered!
The Ezer Mizion ‘One Wish’ program is in full swing. Countless holocaust survivors residing in nursing home facilities have already benefited. The program attempts to meet the need of these precious elderly whose daily life often places them in a one-size-fits-all situation in which their individual past life, their specific interests and opinions have no place to flourish. Too often, the senior’s sense of self begins to wither and die. They have a name. They have a lifetime of past experiences. But the ‘me’ slowly fades away and they become not much more than a room number.
The phone rings at Ezer Mizion. Calls come all day, usually from people undergoing horrific crises. This time there was a smile in the voice of the caller. A young boy had completed his chemo treatments and his Bar Mitzvah was coming right up. There was no time to prepare. Can Ezer Mizion help? ’We’d love to,’ the rep answered, happy to be part of a joyful event. As soon as the call ended, the phone was again pressed into service. Volunteers were needed asap. A sweet table including a personalized Bar mitzvah cake. And petit fours. And creative pastries galore. And drivers to deliver. And volunteers to set up tastefully with elegant tableware. And a popular singer. And a keyboard player. And a gift of a fancy watch presented by the director of Ezer Mizion’s Community Cancer Support Division And…and. Yitzchok, our hero, danced and danced…round and round, holding the hands of everyone who loved him while the guests cried tears of joy, of gratitude, of hope, of prayer.
In an effort to ease the loneliness and solitude of Israel’s seniors who are homebound due to fragile health and corona regulations and precautions, Ezer Mizion is shifting its live activity clubs to virtual platforms. Many of the seniors that we are targeting had been attending activity clubs, fitness programs, lectures and various programs at Ezer Mizion, filling their time with stimulating, enjoyable social activities. The virtual clubs will include seniors who participated in the clubs before corona as well as additional new members.
Stuck at home now, lacking ways to fill their time, missing social interactions and needing cognitive stimulus, many elders are suffering greatly. They will be happy for opportunities to safely connect with others and participate remotely in activities that will stimulate them cognitively, physically and emotionally.
To ease the transition to the virtual platform and ensure ease of use for the seniors, we will be using tablets that have been adapted specifically for the senior population with the most simple user formats possible. The cost of each tablet is $415. The tablet, which includes adapted hardware, software and technical support will be provided by Ezer Mizion for free as a precondition for participating in the clubs.
Ezer Mizion has chosen 50 seniors for this pilot project. They will be meeting in groups of 12 to 15 participants twice weekly for exercise, lectures, activities, sing-alongs, laughing yoga and more. They will also be able to make use of the device to interact socially with their peers and family throughout the week as well as keeping in touch with their doctor and kupat cholim (HMO) for health maintenance. The next phase of the project will expand the virtual activity club to 150 homebound seniors who are being serviced by Ezer Mizion homecare attendants.
Project Goals Include:
Strengthening sense of belonging to a social group
Easing feelings of loneliness and isolation
Reinforcing a sense of return to something familiar
Tension and anxiety relief, increasing motivation
Preservation and enhancement of cognitive capabilities
Maintaining connection, improving function
Promoting positive, healthy routine
At Ezer Mizion, we view this project as life giving! Reigniting our precious seniors with the will to live, proving to them their essential value as a person and their importance to the group and our team, easing their loneliness, enhancing their cognition, their social interaction and their quality of life. To check out the tablets watch this clip: https://youtu.be/_fgoJRajDVo
Year 1 Project Costs
Cost of each tablet: $415 (C$545)
Cost of 50 tablets for pilot phase: $20,800 (C$16,900)
One year operating cost: $30,000 Your tablet sponsorship and project support will enable Ezer Mizion to infuse the lives of these seniors with hope, with renewal, with a will to live, enriching the fabric of our society. Donor recognition available with a dedication on each tablet sponsored.
Your gift will that smile to our precious seniors. Please donate with ‘tablets for seniors’ in memo.
The scene is typical at Montfort Lake in Israel. A lone man casts his fishing rod breaking the shimmering lake’s surface. His pail is already filled with trout for the family supper that evening. A father helps his youngsters into a rowboat cautioning them to close their life jackets with care. A newlywed couple strolls around the lake’s edge. And then there is the Ezer Mizion group. Not the typical. They are in their eighties and nineties. No boating or fishing for them. But the memories…They, too, had once loved the lake. It may have been a lifetime ago but in their hearts there is the same joy of yesteryear when they were young. The weather was perfect. The view magnificent. They sang. They engaged in sports suitable for the golden-ager. This most sublime day was topped with a cookout, a marvelous treat for our survivors whose three meals a day are eaten in the nursing home dining room.
This special day was part of Ezer Mizion’s One Wish Program whose purpose is to enable the elderly holocaust survivor living in a nursing home to emerge from the ‘just a number’ syndrome and once again experience his favorite activities.
Reb Aharon is a 106 year old holocaust survivor. Many years ago, he underwent, like so many others, traumatic experiences that no human being should know of. Yet he remained strong and built a religious life for himself. Those of us who did not live through the holocaust cannot fathom the strength it took to do so. And now he asked for a bit of help from us. It had been so long since he visited the kotel. He yearned to touch its precious stones once again. Would it at all be possible? As part of Ezer Mizion One Wish program for holocaust survivors, problems, one after the other, were solved and, like a dream, there he was. He was trembling with emotion as he, a Kohen (priest), blessed his family members there at his beloved Wall. May G-d…… the words seemed to float in the pure, holy air surrounding the Western Wall. Reb Aharon had come home.
For other survivors, lowered cognitive levels did not allow them to choose a favorite activity for their wish. Other ways of bringing them to greater awareness of their surroundings had to be found. A medical clown was invited to visit the home. Their increased focus, their happy smiles were evidence of a very successful performance.
Still others, a group of animal lovers, were treated to a show starring Ezer Mizion’s therapy dogs. The seniors played with the dogs, stroked them, fed them, and enjoyed watching them do tricks. They were engaged! For some, it seemed almost miraculous. One step forwards out of the tunnel of confusion and non-awareness that they had been living in.
Ziniada lived in the nursing home 24/7. Imagine her joy when she was treated to a trip to one of her favorites from a lifetime ago, Big Fashion Mall in Ashdod.
Moshe of Givatayim was turning 101 years old! His body may not be as mobile as in his younger years but his mind was sharp and lucid and he was much loved by his family and fellow residents. His daughter asked that he be treated to a birthday party together with his friends at the home. The atmosphere was electric! The singing emotive! The deep joy gratifying! And Moshe was showered by blessings by those who loved him.
One of the many thank you notes from a daughter who accompanied her father on a One Wish trip:
Dear Adi and Ora❤❤🌺,
I took the sticker off his jacket and put it straight on the photo (that hangs on my refrigerator.
I am speechless. Any thanks I express will not come close by any measure to what I experienced and felt today. You excited us as much as a cruise around the world on a luxury liner would have (a cruise doesn’t even come close!)… Today, thanks to you, I experienced something wonderful that will stay with me forever…
Activities at the Geriatric Services Division during the Coronavirus Period
150 professional staff members
13 branches across the country
Thousands of dedicated volunteers
With the onset of the crisis, the entire Geriatric Services Division shifted to a mode of alternating home/office work. Authorization to work remote was given to 60 staff members who were provided technical support and computers, as needed.
During this period, the tremendous responsibility of the Geriatric Services division towards the highest-risk group in the world has doubled. This responsibility is reflected by work around the clock, with no breaks, in the division’s 2 primary areas of activity:
Mentoring and guidance of new seniors, their caregivers and family members in obtaining a geriatric services stipend from Bituach Leumi (the National Insurance Institute)
Placement of certified attendants in seniors’ homes
Guidance in the process of obtaining a foreign worker
Initiated phone calls every week to all the attendants, care recipients, caregiving family members (about 7500 calls a week)
Frontal and phone visits to 3000 seniors
Intensive work geared at giving the full number of hours of entitlement and care to the senior, in spite of attendants’ fear and concern of giving caregiving hours in the homes of seniors.
Operation of an active “Corona hotline” Sunday to Thursday from 8 AM to 10 PM and on Fridays and Erev Chag from 8 AM to 12 PM; Motzaei Shabbat and Motzaei Chag from 8 PM to 11 PM
The hotline provides a response to seniors, family members, and attendants in the following areas:
Calls for emotional support
Therapy calls with experienced professionals (social workers)
Calls to obtain information about entitlements and assistance in making them happen
Facilitating community and municipal services, especially hot meals!
Facilitating Ezer Mizion services: loan of medical equipment,
Arranging purchase of groceries, produce, home supplies and medicines and delivery via Ezer Mizion “Linked to Life” volunteers
Tapping in to connections for the purpose of obtaining service from different entities, in collaboration with the Home Front Command, kupat cholim, etc.
Activating volunteers to relieve loneliness via:
“Listening Ear” project — phone calls from volunteer emotional therapists
“Adopt a Bubby and Zeidy” — in collaboration with Discount Bank employee volunteers who are set up with seniors to allay their loneliness by phone.
Online physical exercise through a number of channels: website, online handbooks, etc.
Distribution of physical exercise kits to the homes of seniors by volunteers
Telephone guidance for active participants at the Senior Health Promotion Center by Center staff
Installation of Security Cameras
Tzipporah Fried Alzheimer Patient Support Center
Outgoing support calls initiated by the Center’s professional staff to caregiving families who were in touch with the center in the past
Online support groups via ZOOM
Phone calls initiated by staff to all Holocaust survivors who participate regularly in the Ezer Mizion activities
Provision of a full response to needs that arise in the conversations: cooked food, purchase of groceries and medicines, emotional support via therapeutic phone calls
Home visits, in keeping with all Health Department directives (remote, porch visits)
Establishment of a mobile library operated by means of a personal delivery from the municipal library to the Holocaust Survivor’s home – operated by the British Café staff
Online/telephone physical exercise guidance
Distribution of potted plants to 1100 Holocaust survivors across the country on Yom Hasho’ah
Our precious elderly holocaust survivors have reached their golden years. Some are surrounded by family with constant reminders of the place they have created for themselves in the world. Others are not so fortunate. Over 500 are living in nursing homes, no longer in charge of their lives. They have become a number, the patient in Room 346, and are no longer able to feel themselves to be individuals. How to recapture the feeling of self-identity? Continue reading More than a Room Number
In a powerful Ezer Mizion event, in collaboration with the Kotel Heritage Foundation, ninety elderly holocaust survivors, together with their families, were brought to the kosel, some for the very first time. They were welcomed by the ceremonial salute by a platoon of soldiers followed by an inspiring musical performance. The event included a visit to the “Chain of Generations” display after which each survivor approached the wall in heartfelt gratitude and prayer. Each participant deeply felt his connection as part of the ‘chain of generations’ so grateful to have been given the opportunity to rebuild their lives.
The group then parted with the kosel and made its way to Aish Hatorah Yeshiva where a festive celebration for the ‘Bas Mitzvah girls’ took place. One may rightly question the existence of a group of Bas Mitzvah girls within an assemblage of . The answer is both sad yet uplifting. You see, for so many of these survivors, there had been no childhood. They missed out on all the milestones that our generation takes for granted. Many holocaust survivors have built anew and are now successful heads of multi-generational families. But there in the recesses of their being lies the childhood that never was. They don’t speak about it. An adult would feel foolish expressing her regret over never having had the opportunity to play with dolls. But it’s there. Or rather, it is not there. A void that cannot be filled. Among themselves, the sorrow may come up in conversation. And at one other place: an Ezer Mizion Social Club for Holocaust Survivors. It was there that an idea was born.
As these heroes attend their grandchildren’s Bas and Bar Mitzvahs, their hearts are filled with pride. Yet there lurks that germ of regret. “I missed mine.”
A formal celebration during the Senior Golden Years has been found to serve as closure for the childhood celebrations lost in the wisps of crematoria smoke. Call it a Bas Mitzvah. Call it a closure of sorts. It helps to put to rest, once and for all, a few of the demons that still invade in their souls.
And so the long awaited day came to an end. It was a stirring and powerful event for the hundreds gathered there, an event greatly enhanced by the moving words of Ezer Mizion’s Founder and International Chairman, Rav Chananya Chollak. It was a day made possible by the cooperation of so many Ezer Mizion Transportation Division and Geriatric Division staff members whose dedication ensured that every detail be perfect. It was a day in which we, the younger generation, were given the opportunity to show honor and respect to our holocaust heroes.
They’re locked in their own world, unable to express themselves. Unable to benefit from daily communication with those around them, their ability to look upon themselves as individuals begins to fade and slowly dissipates. Their unique personalities become only a memory in the minds of those who knew them well. Continue reading Why Home?