A Cancer Hospital Synagogue: Not the Typical Bar Mitzvah Venue

Cancer and Bar Mitzvah: Not a Good Mix

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.

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Because of You!

So grateful to start the new year with the power number of 18.

18 = LIFE.

Thankful that we were able to give 18 people the gift of life.
18 bright futures ahead.

18 families who can sleep better at night.

18 people who are finally in recovery.

We are excited to start this new year with 18, Chai- Life!

May it be a year of many life-saving stem cell transplants!

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Holding Their Hands

Dreamotherapy: a visit to the Kinneret for Cancer Patients

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.”

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One Year. Two Lives.

One year. Two lives.  Two members of the same family each saved a life by donating stem cells. Now they are waiting for their younger sister to be called to complete the circle.

Yael (23) was the first to donate. She was told that a man with leukemia needs a stem cell transplant transplant. “It’s his only chance to survive and I am the only one in the world who can donate since I am a genetic match to him. Can you imagine how that made me feel?! What an opportunity! Most people can go through a lifetime without having such an opportunity. I was thrilled.

Donating stem cells

“Talya from Ezer Mizion walked me through the process and took care of every detail. Then came the day I was dreaming about – the day my cells would become part of a stranger whom I didn’t know but already felt close to. One day, completely unexpectedly – I was vacationing – Adi from Ezer Mizion sent me a letter from the recipient. There are no words to describe how I felt. It all became so much more real. ”

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No Matter What is Needed

Deeply ingrained in the Ezer Mizion volunteer is to ‘be there’ both practically and in spirit with the needs of those suffering from life’s crises. It may be sharing tears when the prognosis is not good or it may be sharing smiles at a festive party like that which took place recently with Ofri who celebrated her last treatment, Note her grin. Doesn’t it say it all!

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Swing for Life

Russell whose life was saved by Ezer Mizion with his wife, Sharon and baby grandson

Ezer Mizion’s annual Golf and Tennis Tournament was held at the pristine Seawane Country Club. Sunshine pervaded the green as the players teed off, elevated by the knowledge that each stroke   was a strike against cancer.

The event entitled Swing for Life serves to benefit Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Registry. For many cancer patients, a bone marrow transplant is their only chance to survive. Genetic matching between donor and patient is essential for success and, since genetics is based on ethnicity, Jewish donors are needed for Jewish patients. Ezer Mizion is the largest Jewish registry in the world and has saved 3980 lives, 390 in 2020 alone. However, too many requests are not yet met and it is vital that the registry be enlarged. All proceeds of the event will fund the expensive genetic testing of many more potential donors, thus greatly increasing the chances of each request being met with a positive response.

Manny Malekan and Simmie Chiger, Committee Chairs, were thrilled to have the event completely sold out. They were ably assisted the hard-working committee: Dr. Aaron Cynamon, Alex Dembitzer, David Neiss, Dr. David Ritholtz, Dr. Alan Spiegel, Sruli Szpigiel, Jordan Chiger, Zachary Chiger, Jonathon Halpert , Eytan Feldman, Michael Pfeiffer, Dovid Schulman and Jeremy Wulwick.  Each member felt the pride of being part of ‘something big’. The Ezer Mizion ‘Hole in One’ Donor Pool, funded by golf events held both in the US and Israel, has already saved over 90 lives.

Simmie Chiger shared his story with the guests: how he had recently been in a horrific accident and he thanked Hashem with the words: Perhaps the merit of my helping to save the lives of others enabled my own life to be saved.  

The guests were treated to a delectable dinner during which the purpose of the event was further brought home. The attendees met Russell, a young grandfather of three, who thanked Ezer Mizion for enabling him to enjoy watching his grandchildren grow up.  In a moving speech, Russell described his feelings when he received his diagnosis. It occurred so unexpectedly as a result of a routine exam.   The doctor had said he was in good health, like a man 15 years his junior except for a quirky blood test which was probably a mistake. Well, it wasn’t a mistake. Russell soon found himself confronting a monster named Cancer who had entered uninvited into his idyllic life.

For Russell, there was light at the end of his tunnel. Motti, one of the over 1,000,000 Ezer Mizion registrants, was a perfect genetic match. As Russell was about to leave the stage, he was asked if he would like to meet his donor for the first time.  Motti was then brought to the stage where the two embraced as only two brothers can. It was Motti’s blood that now flowed through Russell’s arteries. The two men will forever be intertwined.

Each attendee left the club that evening , knowing that there were many, many ‘Russell’s’ out there- some of them even small children- and he had helped to save Jewish lives.

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Our Treasured Volunteers

Sometimes we have to wait until the World of Truth to see it. But sometimes it is so clear. Like the Bluestones who are owners of a well-known Israeli firm that manufactures fashionable clothing, makeup and jewelry bags. In spite of their many business responsibilities, they devote a great deal of time to volunteering for Ezer Mizion. One of the recipients of their chessed is a disabled, elderly man for whom Mr. Bluestone delivers meals regularly. Meals are not all he delivers. With the food he brings caring, genuine interest in the details of the man’s day and an upbeat, cheery ambience.

A friendship developed between the two and it was only natural that when the elderly senior was hospitalized with no family support, Mrs. Bluestone cooked a complete array of Shabbat dishes and they both spent Shabbat together with him in his hospital room.

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Shine a Little Light and Win Big Prizes

Things can be bad. But they’re worse when you have to face them alone.

Take Avi, for example. He was in elementary school when his parents got the news: Cancer.

The lights went out. Their lives turned dark.

Uncertainty. Which treatment should we pursue? Is a bone marrow transplant the best option?

Concern. How would we juggle his treatment and still care for the rest of the family?

Fear. Would Avi make it?

His parents watched as the light went out — it dimmed from Avi’s eyes, it disappeared from their home. The darkness shadowed over their family, as it does for thousands of families across the world. Avi’s is far from the only one.

But whether dealing with cancer, mental health, or special needs — there’s a glow in the dark. There’s an organization that shines a little light and helps them navigate the darkness.

Ezer Mizion gets 650,000 calls a year. They answer each one. Yes, we will be there for you.

We will guide you through treatments.

We will drop off hot dinners.

We will find you a matching donor.

We will provide mental health support.

We will send volunteers to the hospital.

How do they do it? What does it take to change a family’s world for the better?

Not much — just a little bit of light chases away the darkness. Ezer Mizion is holding a historic auction — one of the largest ever — and with each ticket that you purchase, you have the ability to replace darkness with light.

The auction features dozens of brilliant prizes, and with tickets starting at just $18, you can win anything from your dream vacation to your own Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) or from home renovations to jewelry. The two grand prizes give you the chance to win $100,000 cash or your own late-model car. By participating in Ezer Mizion’s auction, you can help the organization to keep glowing.

This year, because of COVID, not only did Ezer Mizion’s income lessen, but their call volume rose astronomically. More people than ever are relying on the organization and, more than ever, Ezer Mizion is relying on you.

Families in Israel and around the world are relying on Ezer Mizion. You’re the one with the power to turn on the light.

Purchase your tickets at emraffle.org today and be their glow in the dark.

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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

https://www.ezermizion.org/donate-to-ezer-mizion.html#tabs-4
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Behind the Scenes at Ezer Mizion

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The strength of a few words, softly whispered, carefully transported on the beams of a gentle smile. They bring a surge of vigor — vigor with the power of a tsunami! That was Mayan. Only nine years old but with the ability to imbue others with her profound strength. Mayan had been stricken with leukemia. While her friends were learning to jump rope, she was spending weeks at a time in a scary hospital witnessing what no child should ever see. Ezer Mizion staff and volunteers supported her and her family emotionally, psychologically and practically with a broad range of programs. All those who met her commented on her strong will to fight this battle and win. Mayan spent a great deal of time at Ezer Mizion’s Oranit, a guest home for cancer patients and their families to live during the duration of treatment. It was a fun, cheery place to be after the morning ordeal of chemo. She could try her hand at a musical instrument, do crafts, climb the monkey bars at the playground or feed a rabbit at the Petting Zoo. Happy and upbeat, on her way to her next activity, she heard a discordant note. Several women were discussing their illness. “I have no strength!” said one. Our nine-year-old giant headed toward the group. In a powerful embrace, she sent sparks of potent vitality to   the woman who had spoken. “What do you mean you have no strength? G-d only sends cancer to people who are heroes!”

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