Organization and caring: a perfect recipe for maximum chessed. Throughout Israel, Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life (an immense whatsapp network) provides rides to hospitals, delivery of essential meds and so much more for Jews dealing with old age, disabilities and illness. Jerusalem is a challenge. The sheer size of the city and the number of major hospitals located there, have created broad-scope needs for those from around the country who are hospitalized in Israel’s capital. Tele-receptionists man the line most of the day and part of the night, with thousands of volunteers.
Consequently, the hands – and cars – of Linked to Life volunteers at the Jerusalem branch are full of unabated chessed work.
Many residents are in need of service outside the city. A father is taking over for his wife at the bedside of their three-year-old at Schneider’s Hospital in Petach Tikva and needs a ride. An elderly man visiting his daughter in Jerusalem forgot his hearing aid at his home up north. All these fall under the standard umbrella Linked to Life network.
They’re on the way from here to there and suddenly receive a request to detour. “Can you pick up something, or perhaps someone, from ‘not too far from here’ and bring it to ‘not too far from there’? Let’s be honest. What is the reaction of the average person? Annoyance? Resentment? But our Linked to Life volunteers are special. Some of them do this every day. And some of them, whenever possible, make the trip even when they had not intended to go. Just to help out another person. It may be a family member of a cancer patient who needs a ride to the hospital. Or perhaps some specialized medical equipment urgently needed or test tubes that must reach the lab asap.
Linked to Life is a whatsapp network run by Ezer Mizion where those dealing with illness can always call for help. Just like they would call a family member. Because we’re all family. Often a response arrives within seconds and our volunteers will bend over backwards to do it right…with kindness, with creativity and with a warm smile.
Yoni is just one of the Linked to Life members. He and his wife originally planned a vacation for this summer but when they weighed the enjoyment they would have touring vacation sites against the deep joy and satisfaction of their Linked to Life activities, the latter won by a mile. During the year, their time is limited but vacation days are completely free. And so the Linked to Life vacation became a reality. Each morning, Yoni used his vacation money to purchase gas and then it was Ready, Set, Go. Their days were filled with driving family members to and from hospitals, picking up urgently needed meds. Requests kept pouring in and Yoni with his wife were there to fill them smiling at each other, their hearts filled with joy. Yoni is just one of our devoted Linked to Life members.
And that is why we at Ezer Mizion decided that an Evening of Recognition is so well deserved. It was a fantastic evening that included swimming, games and great food. The camaraderie was tangible as hundreds shared an evening of fun.
And the highlight? The icing on the cake of this very special evening was the opportunity to join the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry. Their data will remain on the database for decades available for any cancer patient in need of a stem cell transplant and someday they will hear those electrifying words: You have saved a life!
Woke up in a grumpy mood today? We have a sure-fire cure. Works every time. It’s a one-word recipe: Giving. Ask Shmuel and his wife, Batsheva. They are members of Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life, a whatsappp network where rides and deliveries are handled to ease the burden of the ill. It may be a ride to therapy for an elderly patient or procurement of forgotten meds for a Parkinsons patient visiting his children. Perhaps a desperately needed ‘bankie’ for a hospitalized toddler or delivery of blood samples needed asap. Often only seconds elapse before the response comes in from one of the thousands of Linked to Life members: I’m on my way there and can pick it up in ten minutes. This time it was a woman in desperate need of a walker not available through any of the standard sources. No problem. A few phone calls to friends by Shmuel and Batsheva resulted in enough funds raised to purchase a new walker, perfect for her needs. Note the smile on Shmuel’s face as he hand-delivers it to her door.
Then there is Elad. He has a different name when dealing with Ezer Mizion’s young cancer patients. He is known as The Puzzle Man. There he is making his way with an immense pile of puzzles. Each child receives his choice and begins to work on it with Elad at his side cheering him on. The challenge takes their mind off the pain and fears they are dealing with and instills a feeling of confidence and accomplishment boosting their image of positivity. The discipline and patience will spill over into his day by day battle with a monster named Cancer. The puzzle’s triumphant completion acts as a metaphor for the victorious completion of treatment accompanied by the longed-for glorious announcement: REMISSION!
Kofiko’s smile is hidden deep inside his monkey costume. Children know him as a popular entertainer in Israel and can hardly believe he is sitting right there with them in the hospital room whose walls are now reverberating with squeals and giggles.
Along with cancer’s frightening medical repercussions, the dreaded disease brings with it a host of other challenges, and drains families’ physical, emotional and financial resources. The Ezer Mizion Cancer Support Division offers cancer patients and their families comfort, love and support, as well as an array of services tailored to meet their unique needs: Oranit, Ezer Mizion’s guest home for children with cancer and their families, is a beautiful home away from home for families battling the dreaded illness“Mikol Halev”: From the Heart provides sick children with VIP visitors, parties, entertainers, gifts, computers, and games, and coordinates unique summer and winter retreats for cancer patients and their families.
Vitamin G – Giving – one tablet a day puts a smile not only on the recipient’s face but erases grumpiness and brings joy to the giver, too.
‘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:
Next week is my birthday and I want…The words are those of an eight year old but can easily be the thoughts of a thirty-eight year old. She’s just learned to be more polite. Natural feelings. We like being pampered and appreciated. We may be giving parents, neighbors, friends but on a birthday, it’s nice to receive. But then there are others, those rare few, who receive the most by giving. They don’t even realize how special they are and will casually send a message like the one below.
“Today is my birthday and I want to really celebrate by filling it with chessed and helping others. Please count me in for as many transports as possible today, my special day!”
This message was sent to Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life, a whatsapp network offering rides to benefit the sick, delivers meds, pick up a lab sample etc etc.
Her coordinator complied and made it a very special birthday indeed. It began with taking volunteers to Hadassah Ein Kerem, a cancer patient to treatment, bringing food to the family of an oncology patient, and that was just for starters…
How blessed we are that these are our volunteers!
Another coordinator relates:
A resident of Rishon Letzion was walking down a hospital corridor to visit a relative when she passed by a woman crying in pain. She couldn’t simply walk by and so she called the phone number used by so many in Eretz Yisroel : Ezer Mizion. I asked her to put the woman on the line. Amid her tears, the woman explained that, having no one to advocate for her, she did not seem to be receiving the care that she needed. I had no way of knowing if that was really the case but the Ezer Mizion Medical Referral Department would be able to get to the bottom of it and so I referred the call to them.
The staff member who took on the case investigated in detail as if she had been a close family member. Result? The woman received the surgery she needed and is doing fine. The woman who had been visiting her relative followed the case and was open-mouthed at seeing how swiftly and how carefully and professionally the situation was handled, a situation that began with a simple phone call. She was so amazed that she called me again and asked how she could join the family (because it truly is a family). And so Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life gained a new volunteer.
During the past year, Ima (mother)planned her life after retirement. Ima is a woman who is young in spirit. She worked hard all her life; she would go to work at a quarter to seven in the morning and come home exhausted in the late afternoon hours.
On the first day of her retirement, all of the children and grandchildren came to celebrate with her. We prepared a festive meal and a game based on our memories of Ima’s working days, which were an inseparable part of the beautiful childhood she gave us. It was a beautiful evening, full of family reminiscences. We all wished Ima many good, healthy years and that she should succeed in filling them with all of her wonderful plans, and each of us went on her way.
The next day, Ima had a stroke. Abba found her lying unconscious on the kitchen floor when he came back from prayer services. All of the smiles and happiness of yesterday turned into hot tears. For twenty-four hours that felt like an eternity, Ima fought for her life. When we saw a small smile on the doctor’s face, we heaved a sigh of relief. He reported that Ima had survived the stroke, but that a long and complex period of rehabilitation lay before her. It was a good thing that we didn’t know what the future held, because we might have given up then and there.
I met your first volunteer at Tel Hashomer, when I was looking for a ride to take me home so I could rest a bit. He told me about “Linked to Life,” your myriad of volunteers who are connected online and who respond to requests for rides from hospitals. He gave me the number of headquarters. That was our first contact. I cannot even describe the amount of help we got from you — the information, the encouragement, the costly medical equipment that you lent us for Ima’s rehabilitation, the nourishing meals you brought every single day, the countless taxi rides that you saved us…Please understand that it was not only the money you saved us but the hassle of dealing with rides when we had no emotional energy left. The Ezer Mizion drivers took all the hassle upon themselves and bent over backwards to make things easy for us, physically and emotionally.
Yesterday Ima returned home after many long months. It is self-understood that it was your ambulance that brought her home and that your volunteer sent a cake… In the evening, I sat with Abba. He was tired but happy about Ima’s return. Then he took out a paper where he’d made an accounting, to the best of his ability, of all the money you saved us since Ima’s stroke. We couldn’t believe what a large sum it had come to! Abba wrote a check from Ima’s monthly pension (attached), in tremendous appreciation to the organization that stands behind all the wonderful people that we met! But all the emotional support, all the handling of logistics again and again and again—that can never be paid back. You really strengthened us! Tizku l’mitzvos smeichos (may you merit to continue your mitzvos)!
We can say it in numbers. 650,000 hot meals for family of seriously ill. 80,000 medical equipment loans. 4400 special needs children. Big numbers. Impressive, aren’t they? Or we can say it in people. Real people. People with feelings. People who cry.
People like the mother who had been looking forward to a delightful reunion with her family after birth until corona cancelled her plans. Diagnosis: positive. Tremendous tension. Will she be ok? Will she be able to care of the newborn? Will the newborn be ok? Quarantine. For the whole family. No preparations. No family to take her home. No exuberant welcome. No gleeful hodgepodge of a welcome-home supper put together by small, eager hands. No anticipation of Mommy soon taking over the kitchen providing that homey security that only mommies can do. No joy. Just anxiety, stress and worry. And then… on the heels of her entry – a warm delivery of 10 falafel portions. A message of caring and support for the difficult days to come. And the sun began to shine.
So very young but they have already learned an important life principle: that one is so much happier if the eye is not focused on the ‘I’. These young people could have spent Tisha B’Av groaning about how hungry they are, how many hours are left, what they plan to eat when the fast is over…Instead they focused on others. On families living with cancer who are surely having a difficult time fasting as they continue to deal with the nightmare that colors every moment. On parents who are not even home but are spending the day at what has become their second home – the oncology ward of the hospital. These Ezer Mizion volunteers cannot cure the cancer but perhaps they can alleviate the burden by keeping the children happily occupied during this most difficult day. And so, in spite of the miserable heat, in spite of their own weakness, off they went – over 40 Ezer Mizion volunteers – to give those kids a fantastic time.
Of course, transportation was needed both for the kids and the volunteers but there was no lack of those who wanted to be part of this project. When a request went out, the replies poured in:
When my eldest daughter, Valerie, died of cancer, I began to seek meaning in life. I refused to accept the idea that our lives are random, that they have no meaning beyond mundane, everyday occupations. I wanted to carry on the path of my daughter, who was a beaming girl, with a huge, giving heart. I wanted to do something really important. I wished to donate not only money, but also of my time and efforts — which seemed to me a more significant contribution. Ezer Mizion gave me the opportunity to fulfill my wish.
He began life as nobody’s baby but it wasn’t long until he became everybody’s baby. . Refael was a deliciously, sweet baby but so very ill. In deep pain, his parents abandoned him due to the overwhelming burden of caring for their child. An uncle contacted Ezer Mizion, the address for so many who don’t know where to turn. “Until an adoptive family can be found, please, please can Ezer Mizion provide the human love and warmth, so vital to a baby’s well-being?” And that is when he became everyone’s baby. Since then, Refael has not been alone. The Ezer Mizion volunteers surrounded him with tenderness and affection. Day and night, summer and winter, Shabbat and Yom Tov.
One day, the uncle asked Refael’s mother to come and just take a peek at her son. “Just for a moment. Then you’ll leave. You don’t have to go near him. Just a quick look. A mini-visit…” She was hesitant. True, it was just for a moment but emotionally it could take such a toll. She was afraid. “I can’t! i can’t! it’s too much!” The uncle persisted. He called again and again. Eventually, he wore her down. “Just a peak. I won’t go near him. just a quick look.”
She peeked – and was “caught.” She saw him held and oh so loved by a volunteer. She watched as another volunteer came to take over. From across the room, she felt the vibes of their love. For the baby. For her son. In tears, she said, “If Am Yisrael embraces Refael with such devotion, then he isn’t alone anymore…And I am not alone…I’ll have support…Perhaps…Perhaps I can do it. Ezer Mizion will be behind me, I can feel their strength. Perhaps my baby will have a mother after all…”This week, Refael will be released to his home, the home he will see for the first time since his birth.
Love and warmth. That’s what Ezer Mizion is all about. A message appears on the Ezer Mizion Linked to Life screen. A 28 year old oncology patient is celebrating her birthday…Who is on board to help make her a grand party? I’m in, I’m in…The positive answers instantly clicking in…In no time we have: An awesome cake, balloons, creams, perfume, chocolates, makeup and more.
It’s midnight at the ER. Patients have been waiting for hours. They’re tense and worn out. And then like a dream, the Ezer Mizion stand appears. With snacks and hot drinks. With smiles and encouraging words. Love and warmth — it’s catchy! A posting appeared in the media and a call was received from a mother of Emunah, a Bas Mitzvah girl. Can she celebrate her daughter’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah by volunteering at the Midnight Stand. Mazal Tov, Emunah. What a beautiful way to celebrate this special milestone.
They don’t forget – those recipients of the Ezer Mizion love. Last week, a woman came to the Ezer Mizion Center to personally deliver a donation to Ezer Mizion and a copy of her new book. “Twenty-four years ago, a few years after we’d moved to Israel, my husband needed a heart transplant. We didn’t know where to start. A friend of mind said, ‘Call Ezer Mizion.’ I remember it as if it was today. Ezer Mizion sent us someone named Benny Meyer. He was an angel. He took us under his wing and guided us step by step through the confusing and painful period. Ever since then, Ezer Mizion holds a special place in my heart. I have an automatic donation going out to them from my account every month and all profits from my new book will go to – where else – Ezer Mizion. So – here is the first installment…”