Yated Neeman – Ohalei Chessed
Aug. 3, 2014
By: Yechiel Sever
*Hundreds of volunteers arrange hospitality for families in Central Israel, with hot meals and programs for the children * Unabated efforts on behalf of special-needs children in the South * “Talk Line” – for emotional support following war trauma * Refreshment stalls for the wounded and their families in the hospitals * All this while operating four annual summer retreats for patients and their families * “The world is built on kindness”
Throughout recent weeks, ever since Operation “Protective Edge” began, extensive chessed work is being done around the clock by hundreds of Ezer Mizion staff and volunteers across the country. This work includes: hosting families from the South and arranging activities for their children, caring for special-needs children in the South, and seeing to the needs of people who were hospitalized after being wounded in the fighting and their families.
Ezer Mizion volunteers in the Southern branches are busy arranging special programs for special-needs children. The extensive activity takes place in bomb shelters, and for children who cannot be brought to the shelters, volunteers come to their homes to occupy them and care for them.
In addition, volunteers from the organization took special-needs children from the South to a big amusement park, to help distract them from the many difficulties they are experiencing these days with little ability to fully comprehend them and to relieve their families for a time from the double challenge they face during this sensitive period.
Alongside large-scale activity in Southern cities for special-needs children, hundreds of Ezer Mizion volunteer families in the center of the country rallied to host many families who fled their homes in the face of unceasing rocket attacks. It is hard to describe the feelings of families who are compelled to leave behind their homes and their life routine and wander from house to house with their children and a few personal items until life returns to normal. Add to this the absence of the hot, nourishing meals they are used to having at home. For these families, the Ezer Mizion volunteers appear like a ray of light in the pitch blackness. Hundreds of volunteers, residents of Modi’in Ilit, cooked four hundred hot meals that were distributed for Shabbat to families from the South staying temporarily in the city.
The hosting was done in commendable collaboration with the local municipality and via a special hospitality coordination headquarters established by private initiative. Ezer Mizion provided the meals, while Mayor Yaakov Gutterman put all his resources at the guests’ disposal at no cost – library, zoo, and a whole line-up of activities to occupy the children. This was a real life-saver for the families and their children.
Especially broad and extensive activity took place in the city of Elad, where more than seven hundred people were hosted in the city by dedicated volunteers, who took care of the families from A to Z from Thursday through Sunday. They saw to every detail, from finding them places to sleep to arranging varied occupation for the children, and of course, cooking and serving hot meals. The devoted Ezer Mizion volunteers, residents of Elad, organized this unique hospitality project in collaboration with the Municipality, headed by Rabbi Yisrael Porush. The project earned the tremendous appreciation of the families, who were astonished by the impressive reception and sincere concern for every detail. “We will never forget these days of hospitality,” the fathers and mothers said, their eyes glistening with tears.
In response to the severe anguish of residents of the South, and also of residents of Central Israel, who are not accustomed to frequent sirens and missiles falling, a professional trauma-care staff was trained to man the “Talk Line” – an Ezer Mizion telephone center for emotional support under fire. Phone number: 1-800-888-910.
Another sphere of activity took place in the hospitals where the wounded are hospitalized, with their families at their sides for hours upon hours.
At Soroka Hospital, Ezer Mizion volunteers set up a large refreshment stall near the Emergency Room, where the wounded and their families enjoy a lovingly arranged, ongoing supply of food. Hundreds of sandwiches are distributed to them every day, together with pastries and drinks, for them and for all the hospitalized patients. At Beilinson Hospital, where many of the wounded are concentrated, a special Ezer Mizion station was set up, offering hot drinks and cake 24 hours a day.
All this work is being done alongside the organization’s ongoing activity throughout the country in addition to four summer camp retreats for cancer patients and their families. The network of annual summer camp retreats for the patients and their families requires a complex logistical system that includes medical staff and many volunteers. Each of the retreats includes hundreds of participants cared for by Ezer Mizion volunteers throughout the year, both in the hospitals and through care and assistance for the extended family. The programs were adjusted due to the security situation, but the organization would not give up altogether on the summer camp retreats, which are so vital for the patients and their families and which they look forward to all year. Tragically, this year there were many additional applications by new patients and their families and we topped 1,000 campers of cancer patients and their families in three separate sessions. We pray and hope for their speedy recovery and that these summer retreats will no longer be necessary.
We are hopeful that peace will reign and the five summer camps for over 1,200 special needs children will go on as planned during the month of August.