A simple pleasure. One that many people experience on a daily basis. But for Luba, an elderly holocaust survivor, it was never in the forefront of her plans for the day. Now as she reaches her golden years and resides in a senior living home, she discovered the enjoyment of sitting in a café. Through Ezer Mizion’s Make-A-Wish program which enables the holocaust survivor to strengthen his feelings of ‘me’ by choosing a treat of their own liking, Luba’s friend had requested to re-experience a visit to a café. Traveling to a real one was out of the question for her. Ezer Mizion therefore simulated a café on the grounds of the home. The friend invited Luba and in this way, Luba experienced the enjoyment she had missed in her younger years. Now it was her turn to ‘make a wish. Without a moment’s hesitation, she said, “I want to go to a real cafe.”Continue reading Whenever, Wherever, Whatever
It’s a constant refrain at the wedding and the whole week of celebrating parties. Boneh bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel . The couple will build a new home based on Torah values. A home of yiras shomayim (awareness of G-d). A home of chessed.
To build, one must have bricks. One chosson (groom) brought his ‘brick’ to the wedding itself. He had begun forming his ‘brick’ many years before when he became a volunteer for Ezer Mizion’s Special Needs Division. Both at camp and during the school year, he devoted himself to the needs of this very special little boy. Ariel became the pillar that the child and his beleaguered parents would lean on. Ariel would call to find out how his special little friend was doing only to find he had a bad day at school when another child grabbed away his cupcake and gobbled it up. Moments after the phone was hung up, Ariel would appear at the door with a cupcake in hand and his trademark smile, accompanied with a loving hug. Should there be a family simcha (celebration), the parents knew they could count on being able to leave their child with Ariel where they were assured of his receiving the love and attention with all of his needs met.
And, of course, there was camp where Ariel was his counselor. They knew their son was fortunate. Ariel was his counselor 24/7. Every moment of the day. A bunk consisting of one child who basked in his counselor’s love from getting him dressed in the early morning to a goodnight hug at dusk with tons of activities during the day geared just for him.
And now Ariel, at the cusp of building his own home together with his new kallah (bride), made sure to bring his ‘brick’ with him to the chasuna (wedding). As always, his special friend remained close at his side with Ariel keeping an eye out to be sure he had a great time. During the kabolos panim, the dancing and even at the chupah, there he was the first ‘brick’ of their new home. May he and his kallah work together to create many more bricks and may Hashem look down at the home they are building and smile with nachas.
In 1988, Ezer Mizion opened Israel’s first summer camp for children with special needs. Since then, the network of Ezer Mizion special needs summer camps has grown to include 7 camps, over 1,500 staff members and volunteers and over 1,200 children with physical handicaps, brain damage, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, autism, blindness, deafness and emotional disorders. For these youngsters and their families, Ezer Mizion’s summer camps are the highlight of the entire year.
The camps, called “B’Lev Sameach” – literally, “With a Happy Heart” – have a full schedule of exciting activities, outings and recreation from morning to night, with all meals and transportation included. The children enjoy live entertainment, trips to amusement parks, zoos, and beaches, and visits to the Kotel and other special places. All of the children are paired with individual counselors who shower them with one-on-one attention, care, and love.
Under the able leadership of Ms. Lidia Rozanski, Multidisciplinary Visual Artist, Certified Art Therapist, participants of Ezer Mizion’s Art Therapy Workshop are guided to explore their inner feelings and express them through visual art. The process that the workshop participants undergo, alone and together through this project, is unique and powerful with a significant impact on their battle with cancer.
This project, an expanse for emotional processing, offers the artists an opportunity to open up and cope and to break the stifling secrecy, while engaging in the process of creating an artistic object and exhibiting it. It enables them to set out on an internal journey that is emotionally, creatively, and practically challenging. This journey demands of the participants to leave their comfort zone for the sake of the change that is generated by the new perspective they acquire in the course of the process.
When a person is sick with cancer, he can experience depression, anxiety, disappointment, frustration, and fear. He can lose his life routine and his ability to create. This workshop provides participants with a place of belonging and identification, a place where they can find change through which they can restore respect – both for themselves and for those around them. Via the process of artistic creation, we try to restore to participants their strength and their ability to do, to create, and to accomplish in the present and to plan for the future.
‘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:Continue reading Can I Help You?
Rules! Usually beneficial but sometimes to the disadvantage of those they are attempting to help. Overriding them. Impossible! Impossible unless a caring, creative entity comes on the scene.
A family in Tzefas – all corona patients. During their illness, the small daughter suffered third-degree burns. She was hospitalized and her condition was serious and worsening. The child? Alone in a strange, frightening environment without the emotional support of Mommy. The parents? Terrified and unable to visit their precious daughter. The emotional torment was agonizing. They knew that a mother’s touch was a powerful medication to recovery. Yet there were those normally beneficial but now so frustrating rules. They called Ezer Mizion, “There’s probably nothing you can do but we don’t know where else to turn …”Continue reading Impossible?
It’s a giant network. No matter what the need, there always seems to be someone to fill it. Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life with its thousands of volunteers listening for the ping, anxious to help out yet another family in need. Recently it was a Down Day. But it wasn’t long before things were looking up indeed. A woman in Tzefat had a Down syndrome baby. That threw her and her entire family into a whirl!
Relatives from Jerusalem, through Ezer Mizion, arranged a bunch of luxurious treats for them on Thursday afternoon. But how to get it all the way to Tzefat? The woman was coming home from the hospital on Friday. That will be the toughest time for the family: sharing the news and the meaning of it with the other kids, while ushering in the Shabbat, and so on and so on ….
Within minutes, a volunteer was found to take the package as far as Haifa. From there, there was a volunteer for after Shabbat to Tzefat. But that wasn’t good enough, because we wanted it to get there before Shabbat…
On Friday morning, we posted a request. The ping was not long in coming. “Just a few minutes ago I decided to drive to Tzefat for Shabbat. Perfect timing. I’ll take it!”
It was a lot. .More than he expected. Their car was fairly full but the family wanted very much to partake in the mitzvah and stuffed the packages on laps and every available inch.
An Ezer Mizion branch in Tzefas is holding their hands now, providing babysitters, hot, beautifully prepared meals and a listening ear. Their biological extended families may be in Jerusalem but they have discovered many ‘family members’ right here via Ezer Mizion.
On this same Down Day, another Downs baby was born to Netivot parents whose families live in Bnei Brak. A recently engaged Ezer Mizion volunteer ‘happened’ to be visiting her the family of her husband-to-be that Shabbos and spent a great deal of time with the mother, to encourage her and to tell her that we are all here for her. Ezer Mizion’s varied divisions will provide for the needs of the family and those of the child as he grows and Linked to Life will ensure the feeling of solidarity with loved ones in Bnai Brak.
Another ‘Up’ for Downs is a powerhouse Ezer Mizion volunteer from Beitar, a mother of a child with Downs, who visits every family that has a baby born with Downs helping them adjust, opening their hearts and minds on accepting and dealing with their new baby.
Pain is traumatizing but the warmth of a hug to augment the professional services will soothe the agony and provide support until the family is able to go it alone.
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.
Do you remember learning how to swim? In your panic, you may have tried to fight the water, thrashing about and soon finding that it didn’t work. ‘Relax,’ said the instructor. ‘Take slow strokes. Trust me. You can do it. True, it’s different. You’re not used to moving in water. But it really can be done. Just don’t fight it.
‘I had been fighting it,’ says Yaakov. ‘Not the water but something else. Something much more scary. And there was no instructor to encourage me. I was all alone, or so I thought, too terrified to face it. Too traumatized to seek help. The woman I had married, the mother of my children, had metamorphosed into …into. I couldn’t even say the word. I was fighting it, trying to make believe it wasn’t there. Then one day I did what i should have done months ago. I called Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Division. They understood immediately. I felt validated. I felt supported. I was no longer alone. They opened my eyes and helped me understand that accepting the reality and ‘going from there’ is not only possible but the only option that will allow us to continue living our lives. “Thanks to Ezer Mizion, I started dealing with my situation, both on an individual basis and in a group framework. I received the tools and strength I needed in order to cope. To people who are in my position, I want to say: We did not choose these ‘gifts.’ Hashem chose them for us. He gives us the gifts and He also gives us the strength to deal with the situation. Whoever thinks he can escape reality and conceal it is mistaken. Ezer Mizion is my light in this saga. They help me achieve a better reality. They have shown me that it is possible to deal with my challenges in a better way.Continue reading We’re There When It Hurts
There he was, unsure where to go but with a determined look on his face. He appeared at the office, said one of the Ezer Mizion directors, an eleven year old boy with Downs Syndrome, looking like he was on a mission. No one brought him to the Ezer Mizion building. He found it on his own, our single-minded hero, and all that remained was to accomplish his goal.
“Are you looking for someone?” I asked him.
“I want to say a giant ‘Thank you’ to Ezer Mizion for the Simchas Beis Hasho’eivah (holiday celebration) that you made on Succos (Feast of Tabernacles) . It was nice! I had so much fun.”
Touched to the core by his sincere words, I called in the rest of the staff and instinctively asked him to bless us. There he stood – a boy? an angel? – with his eyes closed, connecting to Hashem (G-d) in a way that we cannot conceive.Continue reading There He Was