What Else Can We Do For Them

Golden-ager visiting museum of his youth

He had actually lived there. It wasn’t just a museum exhibit for him. Every detail was part of his youth. He had so much to add. So much color to each display. Each detail he shares is a validation of his own persona, a strengthening of his self-image. There was just one problem. He couldn’t get there on his own.

Years ago, David Arev would frequently visit the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center Museum. But since he became a nursing home resident, travel was impossible. And so there he remained, languishing in the home, his individuality fading as he began to blend into the woodwork and become one with the institution in which he resided.

Until an Ezer Mizion   volunteer approached him. Would he like to participate in the Fulfil -a-Wish program? He leaped at the opportunity and, transported by an Ezer Mizion ambulance,  it was not long before he, together with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, found himself at the museum where he had spent so many happy hours.

Senior visiting Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center Museum

David and his wife are Iraqi-born and were children at the time of the farhud (the pogrom or “violent dispossession” carried out against the Jewish population of Baghdad, Iraq, in June 1941, immediately following the British victory in the Anglo-Iraqi War. The riots occurred in a power vacuum following the collapse of the pro-Nazi government of Rashid Ali while the city was in a state of instability.) They both joined the Zionist Underground Movement and later made aliyah to Israel where they married.

At the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center Museum, they enjoyed a guided tour. In the course of the tour, they stopped the guide several times to explain to her on their own about the items on exhibit and share with her their extensive knowledge and hands-on historical experiences.

Like during covid when patients spent so many miserable days and weeks isolated in hospitals with no contact with family, Ezer Mizion was there for them with ‘care packages’ filled with pick-me-up items to embrace them with love and caring. Aesthetically packed cosmetic packages with everything from shampoos, Q-tips, fragrant soaps, creams and warm slippers. Comfort packages with cake and chocolates. Packages of hope and good cheer, Ezer Mizion style.

Corona may pull them down but Ezer Mizion picks them up

The Fulfil a Wish Program is typical of Ezer Mizion sensitivity that stems from the organization’s founder, Rav Chananya Chollak – the ability to zero in on what is needed and find creative ways to provide it.

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Chanukah Torch of Chessed in the Corona Wards

Chanukah is a holiday of light, warmth, and family togetherness.

For someone who is hospitalized, it is hard to feel all that. When the hospitalization is in a corona ward, the situation is even more complex.

Ezer Mizion’s volunteers in the corona wards took upon themselves a challenge: to bring the light of the Chanukah candles into the corona wards, too. Every day of Chanukah, a candle-lighting ceremony was held in the Jerusalem’s Herzog Hospital corona ward

One day of Chanukah, the volunteers — all “corona alumni” — came in full protective gear, with guitars and sufganiyot, to hold a Chanukah party in the ward.

In Shaare Zedek Hospital, too, there was candle-lighting each night and visits by volunteers to the wardo

In Hadassah Ein Kerem’s oncology ward, activities went on throughout Chanukah, climaxing with a special event with Yishai Rebo, who sang with the hospitalized children.

“We’ve set as our goal that no patient should remain alone on Chanukah, whether in the corona ward or in oncology,” said Yisrael Yeret, director of Ezer Mizion Jerusalem region services. “In addition to parties in hospitals, we distributed craft kits to families of oncology patients and large amounts of food to families who needed it. We also gave out groceries to people in quarantine, to cheer them up and to keep them supplied.

“In spite of the difficulty rallying volunteers on Chanukah in general, and specifically volunteers for the corona wards, we achieved our goal of brightening the holiday for people in challenging situations.”

Ezer Mizion held many Chanukah parties for patients, elderly, and people with special needs.

Ezer Mizion also operates a nationwide volunteer initiative in which people who have recovered from corona come to volunteer in corona wards, after undergoing a screening process in the hospitals. The volunteers give the hospitalized patients warmth, attention, encouragement and support and alleviate the burden on the medical staff. Every Ezer Mizion branch and many departments partner in these activities, along with their routine tasks and obligations.

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