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 holocaust survivor living in a nursing home to emerge from the ‘just a number’ syndrome and once again experience his favorite activities.
For another group it was a trip through the mall, stopping at the stores as their fancy took them. At some stores there were surprises: small gifts previously purchased by Ezer Mizion staff to bring an added smile onto a face already suffused with joy.
S. opted for a trip to the zoo in Kiriyat Motzkin.
P. desperately wanted to visit Yad VaShem. Her father disappeared when she was a little girl and the small child inside her so much needed closure. “My father was there,” she said as she exited, more calm then she had been in years.
Over and over again we heard the words: “You don’t know how much good this did for me and how meaningful it was for me. You can’t understand. I can’t believe I actually went. It was a dream. An unbelievable dream. It made me feel so – so- so real. ” This was P. who had shyly requested a trip to the Tel Aviv art museum.
The Ezer Mizion ambulance drivers drove for hours but all signs of fatigue disappeared from their faces as they watched the elderly couple, their faces lined with experiences no human should have faced, approach the kosel (Western Wall). It had been 31 years since their last visit. Their emotion was palpable as they gently caressed the beloved stones. The husband donned his tefillin (phylacteries) . They davened (prayed) in the place that exudes holiness, where the Shechinah (G-d’s Presence) has never left. They reached into their pockets to pull out the many notes that their not-so-fortunate fellow residents had given them to place in the Wall’s crevices. Slowly, slowly, they took their leave as their Ezer Mizion companions brought them to the next phase of their Special Day, a tour through the Kosel Tunnels and a lovely meal at Bein Haeshatot restaurant.