Woke up in a grumpy mood today? We have a sure-fire cure. Works every time. It’s a one-word recipe: Giving. Ask Shmuel and his wife, Batsheva. They are members of Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life, a whatsappp network where rides and deliveries are handled to ease the burden of the ill. It may be a ride to therapy for an elderly patient or procurement of forgotten meds for a Parkinsons patient visiting his children. Perhaps a desperately needed ‘bankie’ for a hospitalized toddler or delivery of blood samples needed asap. Often only seconds elapse before the response comes in from one of the thousands of Linked to Life members: I’m on my way there and can pick it up in ten minutes. This time it was a woman in desperate need of a walker not available through any of the standard sources. No problem. A few phone calls to friends by Shmuel and Batsheva resulted in enough funds raised to purchase a new walker, perfect for her needs. Note the smile on Shmuel’s face as he hand-delivers it to her door.
Then there is Elad. He has a different name when dealing with Ezer Mizion’s young cancer patients. He is known as The Puzzle Man. There he is making his way with an immense pile of puzzles. Each child receives his choice and begins to work on it with Elad at his side cheering him on. The challenge takes their mind off the pain and fears they are dealing with and instills a feeling of confidence and accomplishment boosting their image of positivity. The discipline and patience will spill over into his day by day battle with a monster named Cancer. The puzzle’s triumphant completion acts as a metaphor for the victorious completion of treatment accompanied by the longed-for glorious announcement: REMISSION!
Kofiko’s smile is hidden deep inside his monkey costume. Children know him as a popular entertainer in Israel and can hardly believe he is sitting right there with them in the hospital room whose walls are now reverberating with squeals and giggles.
Along with cancer’s frightening medical repercussions, the dreaded disease brings with it a host of other challenges, and drains families’ physical, emotional and financial resources. The Ezer Mizion Cancer Support Division offers cancer patients and their families comfort, love and support, as well as an array of services tailored to meet their unique needs: Oranit, Ezer Mizion’s guest home for children with cancer and their families, is a beautiful home away from home for families battling the dreaded illness“Mikol Halev”: From the Heart provides sick children with VIP visitors, parties, entertainers, gifts, computers, and games, and coordinates unique summer and winter retreats for cancer patients and their families.
Vitamin G – Giving – one tablet a day puts a smile not only on the recipient’s face but erases grumpiness and brings joy to the giver, too.
Some people put their lives into neat little compartments. Nine to five on weekdays is work… Tuesdays from 7-9 is chessed (giving)…Mondays and Wednesdays…Avrohom is not one of those people. Together with his family, he delivers hot meals to families dealing with serious illness. Yes he has set times to do it but it doesn’t stop there. Chessed permeates his every hour. Avrohom drive a bus during his 9-5 work hours but he is not an ordinary driver and his bus is not an ordinary bus. With the permission of his boss, Avrohom’s bus sports a large sign notifying families in need of help in transporting food packages, meds, personal items – anything to make the life of a sick person easier – from one bus stop to another. And, like any businessperson, he is happiest when lots of “customers” use his services. Avraham we are so proud that you are part of the Ezer Mizion family!!!
Giving underlies every service provided by Ezer Mizion whether it is alleviating the stress of illness, working with a special child or the mentally ill. Many services ease the predicament of the lonely holocaust survivor such as the One Wish program which seeks to strengthen the elderly’s fast receding sense of self.
Like Aspir. She is originally from Ukraine and immigrated to Israel with her brother. Neither one remarried. They are the sole survivors of their family with no future generations to ease their loneliness and the pain of growing old. No children to erase the feeling of helplessness and no grandchildren to give them an identity. She had lived in Israel since World War ll but her childhood roots remained in Ukraine. She longed to connect once again. And so, in barely a whisper, she responded to the ‘What is Your Wish’ question: If at all possible…do you think you could…I heard there is a museum. I forgot what it’s called. They talk about Ukraine about, you know, about what happened. Maybe I could find something about my home town…the streets… the people….?
What a wonderful day it was at Yad v’shem, a day of closure for the lonely golden-ager. The soft smile remained on her lips, accompanying her into her dreams that night. Another wish fulfilled by Ezer Mizion’s Golden Age Program bringing a feeling of identity to so many whose self-image has been gradually becoming nothing more than a room number.
What is Ezer Mizion? In addition to its Bone Marrow Registry and many other services, it is a factory. And the product? The product is smiles. Sometimes the going is rough. We may not be able to cure the disease but we can ease the pain and bring a smile to a face that hasn’t smiled in days. Like little Rachel* who has seen more pain in her four years than most adults have seen in a lifetime. Chemotherapy has stolen her innocent childhood from her and now she is on the way to Vienna with her mother and twin sister to continue treatment. Her mother packed a suitcase of the basics and Ezer Mizion packed a suitcase of smiles. If there is something that can ease the pain of a sweet little four-year-old girl somewhat, it’s Hello Kitty and so loving hands packed up every imaginable Hello Kitty item… a suitcase of emotional strength for the grueling months ahead.Continue reading The Smile Factory
Countless families are living under the horrific tension of dealing with the life-threatening disease that we don’t even like to mention. The occasional relief of tension does wonders for their psyche and revives the spirit enabling it to partner with the body in its battle for life. To provide emotional relief from the tension of cancer, periodic retreats are scheduled where the whole family can re-bond in a convivial, upbeat atmosphere.Continue reading A Vacation from Cancer
It’s a talent. An innate ability found in only a few. The ability to notice. To really see. To understand what someone else needs. Only a few have it but the few can give it over to the many.
Chananya Chollak, who founded Ezer Mizion in 1979, was such a person. A new chosson (groom) who would be expected to be involved in his kallah (bride) and not be able to see anything outside of new marriage, was spending time with his hospitalized father-in-law and became aware of the many problems facing the families of the patients. It was there that several divisions of the future Ezer Mizion were born. What began with 8 volunteers to provide meals for family members spending hours at the hospital bedside and a professionally outfitted van to transport the wheelchair-bound has mushroomed into an empire of chessed with 30,000 volunteers, all who have absorbed Rav Chollak’s ability to really see and really care.
Like Rina, a patient in the oncology ward. She was battling for her life but right now, uppermost in her mind, was her daughter who would normally be celebrating her bas mitzvah. What with all energies going toward fighting the cancer, this most special day was expected to pass with hardly a blip. But Rina was an Ezer Mizion client and that made all the difference. Professional studio pictures taken at her home. A sweet table to vie those at the fanciest event. A cake donated for the occasion by an elite patisserie. A makeup artist for both of them who would wield the wand and turn them into princesses. No detail was omitted by Shula, the volunteer who really saw and really cared.
Then there was the recent fire in Yerushalayim. People were being evaluated en masse. The need to evacuate was obvious and the volunteers were working hard. What wasn’t so obvious is the fact that a group of yeshiva bochurim (students) had not had anything to eat since the early morning. Moments after they arrived to safety, there appeared pizza pies galore. The starving boys never would have asked but grins on their faces showed how welcome the unexpected treat was.
The first step in creating a new division is seeing the need. Matan in Nechalim was born because it became obvious to Rav Chollak that handicapped adults need something more than care. They need self-esteem – the kind that comes from accomplishment. And how can they accomplish when they cannot even move from here to there? Ideas were tossed around, debated, discarded, re-evaluated until a full program came into being. A program that gets these talented young people to leave their homes early, excited to begin their day. They’re taught 3-D printing, crafts, and much more…skills that can generate income, activities that create positive social interaction. Recently their creations were proudly displayed at a fair where crowds converged at the individual tables where each one’s products were admired and many purchased.
The files are filled with thank you notes from people who are longing to express their gratitude for the practical and emotional support. Many join our volunteer groups, anxious to give back to others what they received in their time of crisis. And many are accompanied by donations but none so poignant as the following written in childish scrawl:
I’m a 12 year old cancer patient sending you my donation. I want to thank you with my whole heart for all the good and fun things you give me.
Thank you so much,
From Motty’s Mother
I am the mother of seven wonderful children. My oldest, Motty, was almost bar mitzvah. At the school where I teach, I was also the “Corona coordinator,” so my days were filled .
I could hear Motty from the next room reviewing the haftarah (Portion of the Prophets to be read in honor of his Bar Mitzvah) . What an uplifting feeling! I couldn’t detect anything unusual about the way he was standing. Probably those complaints about his leg were just growing pains.Continue reading A Cancer Hospital Synagogue: Not the Typical Bar Mitzvah Venue
“There’s nothing like Ezer Mizion!” These are the words of a grateful employee who…we’ll let her tell her story.
“On Friday afternoon, my niece’s little girl came home from gan with a high fever. She was put to bed but, only a few minutes later, there in the thick of her erev Shabbos (pre-Sabbath) cooking, ‘something’ pushed my niece to check on her. As her mother stood there in the doorway, the child turned blue, then purple, then black. Terrified, my niece ran outside holding her daughter and screaming for help. The end of part one is that the hospital diagnosed it as a genetic reaction to sudden high temperatures. The drama was over but now came the practical questions. If they were released on Shabbos (Sabbath) where would they go? My niece was expecting and traumatized. And, in addition, they would want to be near a hospital just in case. So I dialed the number that is often first on the list of every shaken family member. Within moments, I received a call back. A suite is reserved for her at Oranit, Ezer Mizion’s guest home for families dealing with cancer. A lovely suite with all the trimmings. My niece couldn’t stop thanking them. And me? I couldn’t be more proud to be part of the Ezer Mizion family.
She may be right, you know, when she says there’s nothing like Ezer Mizion. What would she have said had she seen Moriah enter Oranit to put smiles on the faces of young cancer patients. What’s unusual about that, you ask. True, it was Moriah’s regular day to come. She comes every week. But today was… her wedding day. Busy? Certainly. But she’s never miss her weekly visit with Ezer Mizion’s cancer kids.Continue reading The Only Thing that’s Impossible Is Saying No
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.
A small child falls and is immediately enveloped in a hug to make the boo-boo go away. An adult? We expect an adult to manage the ups and downs of life his own. Usually he can. But there are times when even the adult needs that hug and a shoulder to cry on.
Illness is like an earthquake for the family. From the moment of the diagnosis, Ezer Mizion embraces the family, encircling them in love and caring, assuring them that we are here for them at all hours of the day and night.
For more than a year, Eitan* has been undergoing treatments until that black day when he was told that the treatment was not having an effect and that he’d need to undergo a leg amputation. The news hit him like a ton of bricks. The one who stood at the side of Eitan and his family and escorted them through these difficult moments was Meir of Ezer Mizion Social Services department. “Due to corona, no one was allowed to visit him,” he relates. “They made an exception for Ezer Mizion staff. During the entire rehab process with the prosthesis, I was able to accompany him, helping him with the physiotherapy, passing the time with him, and raising his spirits.”Continue reading Holding Their Hands