Visual Arts Joins the Battle against Cancer

Ran Sahar, CEO of Maccabi visiting Ezer Mizion’s 2020 Art Exhibit

Ran Sahar is CEO of Maccabi, israel’s leading HMO, certainly a very busy man. But Mr. Sahar deemed it important to take time off from his crowded schedule to visit Ezer Mizion’s 2020  Art Exhibit. The annual exhibit features work produced by the participants of the Art Workshop, one of the many programs of Ezer Mizion’s Cancer Support Division.

Under the able leadership of Ms. Lidia Rozanski, Multidisciplinary Visual Artist, Certified Art Therapist, participants 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, 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.

The artistic works created by participants in the workshop and displayed at this exhibit reveal a little bit of this process and open a window to the world of people fighting cancer. Ofir Amitay uses the following text to illustrate her creation.

Cancer patient depicts family support as she herself experiences helplessness

Together Hand in Hand

How supportive can hands be?

To a child whose life has only just begun..

How supportive and strengthening can a family be?

Apparently, more than I could ever have thought.

Like the foundations of a building, strong and steadfast in the face of a storm,

Like the net for the fallen trapeze artist, flexible, soft, holding on, not letting go.

Hands so powerful, endlessly strengthening.

Where would I have been without you, my dear family?

Probably not among the living.. and thus, this exhibition

Is yours as it is mine.

Together, hand in hand, forever.

To view exhibit: https://ezermizion.org/pdfs/Art_Exhibit_2020.pdf

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Manufacturing Smiles

The phone rings at Ezer Mizion. Calls come all day, usually from people undergoing horrific crises. This time there was a smile in the voice of the caller. A young boy had completed his chemo treatments and his Bar Mitzvah was coming right up. There was no time to prepare. Can Ezer Mizion help? ’We’d love to,’ the rep answered, happy to be part of a joyful event. As soon as the call ended, the phone was again pressed into service.  Volunteers were needed asap. A sweet table including a personalized Bar mitzvah cake. And petit fours. And creative pastries galore. And drivers to deliver. And volunteers to set up tastefully with elegant tableware. And a popular singer. And a keyboard player. And a gift of a fancy watch presented by the director of Ezer Mizion’s Community Cancer Support Division And…and. Yitzchok, our hero, danced and danced…round and round, holding the hands of everyone who loved him while  the guests cried tears of joy, of gratitude, of hope, of prayer.  

An Ezer Mizion director shares her experience:

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Rx for Cancer: Fun! Fun! Fun!

The two go hand in hand. Chemotherapy and emotional therapy. A patient’s spirits become a powerful partner in the battle against illness.  While Ezer Mizion is not able to provide chemotherapy, we search every nook and cranny for ways to bring joy to the patient and his family. The creativity of the professional staff supported by thousands of dedicated volunteers are in the business of manufacturing smiles on the faces of those who haven’t smiled in days.

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Torch of Chessed: Cancer Support

Shoshi Charmatz, mother of six, has been battling cancer for seven years. Shoshi attends Ezer Mizion’s visual arts therapy workshop and the artwork she has created is currently on display at Ezer Mizion’s visual arts workshop exhibit. Shoshi’s called her moving work of art “The Surviving Tree and me.”

As part of her battle with the cancer that struck her body, Shoshi underwent treatments in New York. On her way to one of the treatments, she encountered the “Surviving Tree,” a lone tree located near the site of the Twin Towers that survived the 9/11 terrorist attack.

“My encounter with the tree was powerful,” she relates. “The tree survived the horrific attack on the city and was cleared from among the ruins. It underwent rehabilitation at a special farm, received infusions of rehabilitative substances, and eventually returned to life and to its original place. I really identified with what the tree had endured.

“At Ezer Mizion’s visual arts workshop, I created my tree, which portrays my journey to recovery with the treatments I am undergoing, far from my family but enveloped in love and filled with hope for growth and full recovery.

“Ezer Mizion and the workshop have a major part in my recovery process, an island of sanity and creation. They are my miracle.”

Oranit, Ezer Mizion’s Cancer patient Support Center, provides professional and volunteer support to patients and their families and envelops them with love.

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Torch of Chessed Burns Brightly during the Corona Pandemic

EPISODE 2

Imagine long days of loneliness at home, days of sickness, compounded by boredom and fear.

The Corona period has decreed this kind of reality on many patients and their families. A reality of sitting at home for long stretches of time in fear due to their illness and in loneliness due to Corona.

At these dark and dreary moments, the Linked to Life volunteers go into action.

The Nidam family from Netivot has isolated itself of its own accord for many long months so as not to endanger the health of the father of the family, who is a cancer patient.

At Linked to Life Southern Region, they decided to take the family out for a fun outing. Avi Pedida, a jeep driver, volunteered to go out with the family for an unforgettable day.

The day began with a luxurious breakfast prepared by a group of Linked to Life volunteers in Netivot. From there, the family went on to a hike in the Negev Mountains. They rode horses and enjoyed a swim in a private pool. They finished off the action-packed day with a scrumptious cookout. “”Words are not enough to thank the Ezer Mizion Linked to Life volunteers,” said the father of the family. “They escort and support us in the most complex moments. They are our light in this very difficult period.”

Linked to Life is a network of Ezer Mizion volunteers who work through a Whatsapp app to provide aid to patients and their families, delivering medicines, equipment, and stem cell tests, among other assignments. Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life network numbers 10,000 volunteers in Israel with many more dedicated members abroad.

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Cancer Support: When the Pain is Too Heavy

It happens in many families. There are times when Abba is involved in a major business crisis and  Mommy has to hold up the fort. Or it can be Mommy who has to rush out of town due to a sick parent and it is Father that is left to take charge. But both parents? During a pandemic? With a Bar Mitzvah coming up? And a forlorn, young boy left to deal with is confused feelings with no support?

Cancer Support when the Pain is Too Heavy

The logistics of making a Bar Mitzvah were out of the question. The father was recuperating from major surgery. The mother was battling cancer. There was no new hat to secretly try on for the 453rd time, no notebook filled with lists. This major milestone was scheduled to happen with nary a blip. The parents’ complicated medical sagas occupied every iota of their minds and emotions.  But parents remain parents even under such difficult circumstances and idea began to sprout. A celebratory trip to the kosel for the three of them. Their son would love it. They knew that. But the idea was next to impossible to execute. Only ambulance travel would make sense but hiring an ambulance at such a time with no money coming in and expenses so high was out of the question.

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The Lego Man

A garbage truck stops and its driver jumps out. He had noticed a familiar car on the road. He reaches into his pocket, pulls out a generous bill he had been saving, hands it to Maor Cohen and, in seconds he is back at his job. “What’ s this?” Maor call s out.

“For the children. The children with cancer at Ezer Mizion. To buy them a lego set.”

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It’s All About Giving

I am the grandmother of Uri who — thanks to you — celebrated his bar mitzvah in the Corona hotel.

I cannot begin to describe the difficulties of this period— the difficulty of planning a bar mitzvah for a boy who is so looking forward to his big day, and then, a week before the occasion, he, his parents and his siblings experience symptoms of Corona, test positive, and are compelled to evacuate to a Corona hotel… All we could do was to focus on praying for their recovery and strengthening our faith that this is G-d’s will and that all is for the best.

None of us dreamed that so many good people would rally on our behalf and organize such a stupendous, lively event! What a fantastic job!!! What efforts to make one boy happy on his big day! You thought of everything: a huge “Mazel Tov” sign; balloon arrangements; a dessert table with fancy cakes, chocolates, petit fours, candies and more and more; a big festive meal for all the patients at the hotel; music, including a keyboard player and singers; and behind the scenes — all the planners, the cooks, the electric technicians, helpers, coordinators  — you name it!

And as for us? We will never be able to sufficiently thank you for the joy you brought to Uri and the entire family.

In 1979, Rav Chananya Chollak, then newly married, founded a small organization of 8 volunteers because he saw a need and wanted so much to give. His attitude has filtered down to the thousands of Ezer Mizion staff and volunteers of what is now known as an empire of chessed. New departments crop up as a new need is identified. The above letter is one of hundreds received in response to help given during the corona crisis.

The Cancer Support Division provides a variety of professional, emotional and practical assistance. Like the planters. A group of children whose mothers are battling cancer needed an emotional outlet.  Emotions are funny things. They don’t always make sense.  The children have a powerful need to give. But what can they give? It must be something meaningful.  A frustrated need brings bitterness. A need properly channeled can bring fulfillment and positivity into the family relationship. And so the children were taught the rudiments of carpentry and produced planters, each filled with seedlings of love, watered by a tearful prayer for a speedy cure.  Can one begin to imagine the joy of the child presenting the gift to his mother, her joy at receiving a ‘piece of his heart’ both culminating in an overflow of family togetherness!

It’s catchy, that feeling of giving. At age 15, Moshe Israeli was diagnosed with bone cancer.
During those incredibly trying times, Ezer Mizion was there to help Moshe and his family with food deliveries, medicine runs, hospital visits and so much more! Fast forward almost 30 years and Moshe now manages Ezer Mizion’s Petach Tikveh branch.

Due to COVID-19, many high risk patients are left with no support or help for their everyday needs. Moshe has organized some 2,800 volunteers to help the elderly, the immuno-compromised and those in desperate need as the pandemic continues its disruptive path.
Food has been packaged, medicine has been delivered so those in need can receive practical support as well as equally important emotional support, all from a distance.

It’s all about giving.

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Think!

idea-3085367_1920“Think, everyone, think!” she cried out. “There has to be something! Something we can do even in the midst of corona.” We all sat there. We’re normally a creative bunch but the ideas were just not coming.  Every year we hosted a retreat for families dealing with cancer. It was the highlight of the year for them, a time to bond with their family, good food, fun entertainment –  a vacation from cancer. Away from hospitals and tests and treatments. Something to put a smile on faces that almost forgot how. It meant everything to the families whom, in addition to the medical situation, were suffering so much emotionally with many family relationships on the verge of collapse. Continue reading Think!Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Their Challenges/ Our Mission/Your Pride

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!

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