Hours: 9-5. A perfectly acceptable job description, wouldn’t you say? True, but one an Ezer Mizion employee cannot relate to. Don’t get me wrong. Ezer Mizion employees have specific work hours like those of any other entity. But the difference is seen at 5:00 PM when the average office employee locks the door to her office, to her mind and to her heart until the next day at nine. The Ezer Mizion employee doesn’t know how to do that. Her typical evening will be interspersed with phone calls. Did the desperately needed wheelchair ordered at ten-to-five arrive? Did her suggestion for the Alzeimer’s patient work? How is the K family whose mother was just diagnosed with cancer doing?
Let me introduce you to David. He’ll tell you his story.
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.
Each one was unique yet each one was the same. Each reflected an individualized situation much exacerbated by the Covid-19 situation. Yet each one was a desperate plea, “Please help me!’ sent to the address they have come to rely upon. Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life is a whatsapp network spanning Israel and around the globe which receives requests that are as varied as those that send them. It may be a need for transport for an oncology patient, delivery of vital meds, putting together a Bar Mitzvah for a boy whose father is in serious condition, picking up medical equipment for a patient who cannot be released from the hospital without it. The list goes on and on.
During the pandemic, the Linked to Life networks were on fire. Requests didn’t stop. Linked to Life coordinated with other divisions of Ezer Mizion and was there for everyone in their time of need. Was it ten requests, a hundred, two hundred? and make no mistake. Each request did not have a one-step resolution. ‘I would check the network and come back half a day later and see 600 more.’ said a staff member who had access to the network. See chart above for the amazing numbers, all performed by our dedicated Ezer Mizion volunteers.
At the same time, all the other Ezer Mizion divisions – Bone Marrow Registry, Golden Age, Special Needs, Mental Health, Cancer Support, Transportation, Food Disbursement – were working at full speed. If we were to add those numbers, the totals would be mind boggling! How does this happen? Because of you, our invaluable friends and supporters!
He’s turning thirteen and still living in a Corona hotel. He has Downs Syndrome and just ‘doesn’t get it’. His Bar Mitzvah will pass with nothing happening???. But his parents have their hands full and the logistics were overwhelming. Ezer Mizion has taken care of him since birth and will not abandon him now. The ‘boss’ himself was consulted and the menu based around his choices (sour sticks and candies). Every minute detail was handled to create the celebration of the century. Hotel guests were invited since there is no social distancing regulation at the hotel and our Bar Mitzvah boy was thrilled. How did the mother put it? “We’re at the stage when our situation doesn’t really interest anyone anymore. But the Ezer Mizion ‘champions of Tiveria’ don’t run out of steam. More treats, more events, everything possible for the Corona patients ‘imprisoned’ in the hotels…”
No adoring Grandma and Grandpa took a turn to snip off a bit of his sweet, little curls. There was no hair to sweep up from the floor. No peyos (sidelocks) adorned his little face. But there was a yarmulke and tzitzis and there was joy. The family celebrated his upsherin (celebration of first haircut) , his first milestone, with joy, with hope and with prayer that there would be many more milestones to celebrate in the future. Continue reading Rx: Smiles
One of the many grateful letters that land on the desk of an Ezer Mizion staff member:
Now I see what it’s all about. I never knew. I’m a nice person just like everyone else. I like to help others. I often volunteer to drive people to the hospital and such. But I never really understood. Until yesterday. I was scheduled to undergo eye surgery at Hadassah Ein Kerem. Driving was out of the question. It was Chanukah vacation and my husband had to be home with the kids. I had no one to ask to drive me and it occurred to me to call Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life – that’s you! I’ve been a member of Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life for ages but this time I was ‘doing it backwards’ and had to look up the number that people call. Continue reading A Thank You Letter for You, Our Friends and Supporters
We speak of it as being a ‘battle with cancer’. Like all battles, it requires an army, each division with its special task, each soldier with a mission to which he devotes his heart and soul. Each ‘soldier’s very being becomes linked to those he helps. Help comes in many different forms. Therapy, living quarters near the clinic, meals, rides. The list goes on and on. This is no 9-5 job where work-related info disappears from the employee or volunteer’s radar as he exits the office.
Shopping for his family at the supermarket, Avi, an Ezer Mizion Linked to Life volunteer, spots a candy bar that little Yossi likes and, with an unmanly sob, he adds it to his cart. (Yossi’s Mommy used to buy him that candy every Sabbath but now Yossi’s Mommy is …) His phone rings and the shopping cart gets shoved into a corner. The store manager will understand. It’s happened before. His wife will surely understand. She had been tearfully praying when he left the house. It’s Moshe. He needs a ride to the hospital. Now. They just called. His wife has only hours to live. He knew it was coming but when it does…oh, it’s so hard. He will be needed for much more than the ride. He and his fellow Linked 2 Life members had supported the family in so many ways for months. “Hashem, give him strength,” he fervently prays as he rushes to his car.
Many weeks are filled with joy like when a child wins his battle with leukemia and L2L members drive the family and accumulated paraphernalia home from the hospital. Soon the child will join his friends in their games, a boy like any other boy. A celebratory parade as they enter the home, each one carrying packages, almost dancing up the stairs. Or when we’re invited to a bris by a young father who had been afraid his baby would be named after him. He’s cured now. The nightmare is over.
Other weeks are not so. Like this past one. Ora died this week. She had been part of the lives of so many Linked to Life volunteers in Rechasim and Haifa. Her conversation was never about her pain, her anguish. It was only about how grateful she was to each person for everything done for her family.
“Mere words cannot express my thanks to you for all your help and support. Hashem, in His great compassion and immeasurable love sent me such special agents as yourselves. I bless you all from the bottom of my heart that Hashem should repay you in kind, grant you health, happiness, and success in all your endeavors and nachat from the children. May good and kindness pursue you your entire lives.”
These words were written to Ezer Mizion just a few months ago by Ora a”h.
We rallied. We tried to smooth the way for them, do the little extras to bring some sunshine into their numbered days together. The medical staff fought hard. We fought hard to keep up their spirits. And we lost. Ora is gone. Ezer Mizion will be there for the family, with the practical, with the emotional as long as we’re needed. We’ll be their cushion, their pillar.
It was a hard week. There was a family at Ezer Mizion’s Summer Camp whose mother spent the time in bed on pain killers, under the supervision of medical staff, coming out for meals and some low-key activities. How gratifying to have been the catalyst for fortifying the family as they shared an enjoyable time together… their last. A day before camp ended, the mother was hospitalized. The children stayed on to finish camp. Ezer Mizion was with the children when they were told the bitter news of their mother’s demise. The younger ones hugged each other in a bundle of grief and said: “Ezer Mizion will help Abba and us. They never leave us to be alone!”
It was a hard week. A single mother of young children. Another young mother. And a sixteen year old boy with a brain tumor. Four young mothers and one young boy in one week.
Hashem, please give all of us at Ezer Mizion strength to be their strength. And Hashem, please hold them tight in Your embrace. Hug them. Comfort them. And wipe away all their tears.
The logistics were endless. But the trip was important to him. Not that many years ago, before he became a victim of Parkinson’s disease, a trip would have involved not much more than packing a carry on the night before. He didn’t need much. Now things were different. Some members of his family didn’t want him to go. They were afraid. What if something went wrong? Arrangements were made for every detail. They planned and re-planned. He wanted so much to go and so his family rallied and tried to smooth out all the bumps.
“Goodbye. Have a safe trip! Goodbye! Goodbye!” They all gathered at the airport to see him off. They weren’t too worried. They had covered everything. “He’ll be fine,” they told themselves.
The trip was uneventful. It wasn’t until they disembarked that the bump came. A big one. He checked the monitor and made his way to the appropriate carousel. It was the first time he hadn’t used a carry on. The Parkinson’s made that too difficult. “It’s the green suitcase with the black stripe,” he told the person helping him. Suitcases flew out. All colors. All sizes. But not his. He made his way to the agent and handed over his baggage papers. He waited while the agent checked his database, made some calls, checked again. “I’m sorry, sir. It’s lost. Please fill out these forms and you will be reimbursed.” He just stood there stunned. Lost? The shirts could be replaced. But his medication! His medication he must have! He only has enough for about half a day. All those pills. So many kinds. How could he ever replace them in a different country?!
Suddenly he felt old. Too old to have made the trip. His family had been right. He never should have gone. He sat down on the nearest chair. Helpless. The ringing of his phone broke into his melancholy thoughts. “Hi. How was the trip? Everything ok?” Nothing was ok. “Wait, Abba. We’ll work things out. You’ll see. Everything will be fine.”
He didn’t see how that could be but, having no emotional energy to even stand up, he remained there on the bench.
Meanwhile, his son got to work. One family member was sent to the pharmacy to procure a whole new set of medication, complete with all legal paperwork. Another was given the job to find someone who could take it from Israel to the US. Calls were made and many people suggested calling Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life Network.
The following post went up on Linked to Life at 8:32:
Urgent request! An Israeli with Parkinson’s disease flew to NY and lost his suitcase with all his medications! Family desperately looking for someone to bring new meds from Israel to NY.
At 8:35, just three minutes (!!) later: Delivery to New York has been arranged! A giant thank you to all our partners!
Still despondent, still sitting on his bench, he answered the ring on his phone. “What??? But how??? You say tomorrow morning???? Really???” With a spring in his step, he rose from the bench feeling ten years younger. It was going to be a great trip!
Like to join Linked to Life? SMS: 011 972 52 580 8936
His firstborn’s Bar Mitzvah. What every father dreams of as he watches his child mature. Every detail is pre-planned, pre-colored, pre-lived. All in capital letters. Ordering the tefillin (phylacteries). Choosing the design for the tefillin bag. The speech. The Torah Reading. The reception. Continue reading Coordinating the Impossible
It feels good to give. Seeing the joy on another person’s face because of something that you did is an experience that cannot be defined. I know about that. I joined Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life awhile back. L2L is a WhatsApp group that can be called for rides, deliveries of vital supplies and a zillion other requests by people who are dealing with serious illness. Continue reading The View from Both Ends of Giving