For most of us, the word ‘I’ permeates our conversation. I feel, I believe, I am worried about. But what exactly is that ’I’ ? We don’t think so much about the question since our various parts work together. We think of an idea, dial a friend to discuss it, click on the mouse to research it, walk to the appropriate place to procure what we need. But then there are the people whose parts do not work together. They’re bright, intelligent, creative. They have opinions. An idea may percolate in their minds but they are not able to make the phone call, use a computer, walk to the nearest store, speak to friends. And so the idea remains. Crying to be developed. Aching to be shared with others. Eventually deteriorating and dying the death of all its predecessors. And the ‘I’? The ‘I’ becomes embittered and withers away into nothingness.
There it stands, a picturesque chalet surrounded by luxuriant foliage in a rustic village located in Nechalim. From a distance it exudes a quiet loveliness but come closer and you’ll see that it is anything but quiet. Everywhere you look, there are motorized wheelchairs and their owners are going from here to there, busy, busy, busy, very intent on achieving their goals. Their goals are many – these severely handicapped young people. Some are unable to walk, others unable to speak but all have talents, opinions, desires.
There it stands, a picturesque chalet surrounded by luxuriant foliage in a rustic village located in Nechalim. From a distance it exudes a quiet loveliness but come closer and you’ll see that it is anything but quiet. Everywhere you look there are motorized wheelchairs and their owners are going from here to there, busy, busy, busy, very intent on achieving their goals. Their goals are many – these severely handicapped young people. Some are unable to walk, others unable to speak but all have talents, opinions, desires. Continue reading Hidden Away Among the Leaves there Lies A…
Marriage is forever, isn’t it? But what happens when he is living in a nursing home, incapacitated and she is wheelchair bound at home? After 63 years of marriage are they never to see each other again?
“After fourteen concentration camps, my wife is my whole world,” he says. “I long to spend time together but I am imprisoned in an aged body.”
Eons ago, they used to be young. They both loved the beach. He used to surf and was quite good at it. And so they dreamed. Separately. Alone. Until Ezer Mizion came into the picture.
It would be like years ago. A date. On the beach. Like when they were young, Like their courtship days.
Logistics are never easy. It required two Ezer Mizion ambulances, each fitted to accommodate a wheelchair. It required trained drivers who are able to handle the disabled safely and with care and respect. It required finding a suitable beach. It required an empty slot in Ezer Mizion’s tightly scheduled Make-A-Wish program. So many requirements but Ezer Mizion staff was determined and the holocaust survivors’ ‘date’ became a reality.
And so there they were, “strolling” along the boardwalk, watching the surfers, reliving their younger days together. They talked and talked, sharing memories, catching up on each other’s lives. They laughed at the antics of the surfers, recalling the days when he rode the surf. Once again they felt the sun’s rays, listened to the pounding of the waves, smelled the ocean spray…together.
An Ezer Mizion outing would not be complete without a delectable meal to go with it. Lunch at the Shaltele Restaurant overlooking the sea topped off their date. They chose all their favorites ending off with an ice cream sundae with all the trimmings. It was a beautiful day. Neither one wanted it to end. But the memories will chase away the loneliness for months to come.
Ezer Mizion’s One Wish Program offers the elderly holocaust survivor the opportunity to choose an event they wish to experience, something they can look forward to. The requests are as varied as the people who make them. It may be a visit to the Kosel, a tour of the old neighborhood, a trip to Tzfas. It may be an opinion regarding entertainment at the facility in which they reside. Ezer Mizion receives requests from social workers or family members of lonely, disabled, holocaust survivors throughout Israel. After reviewing the requests, Ezer Mizion coordinates the logistics of making these dreams come true.
Many of today’s Holocaust survivors are confined to facilities, lonely and isolated. They suffered indescribable trauma in their early childhood and youth. As people age they face loss. Loss of their independence, of their faculties, of their standing in the community. Slowly they shrivel, even losing their sense of self. Our goal is to revive their spirit, ignite their feeling of self-worth, and encourage them to delve below the dust that has gathered and realize that their wants, their opinions matter. This, we hope, will renew their vitality and empower them by enhancing their sense of self-worth.
Approximately 570 wishes will be fulfilled this year. The senior is heavily involved in the planning and receives a lovely album of pictures after the Big Day. The anticipation beforehand coupled with the memories following will infuse our precious survivors with emotional energy, healing, hope and happiness.
Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.
Life goes on. Minor ups. Minor downs. Only the expected appears on the horizon. Day after day. Year after year. Until suddenly a violent gust swoops down and grabs you like a ferocious tornado. It picks you up from your familiar life and hurls you into a world of terror, of helplessness, of bewilderment. You feel like a tiny child, lost in a busy department store with no mommy to hold your hand.
In recent years, Ezer Mizion has tried to be that ‘mommy’, providing the emotional, psychological and practical support for those that have suddenly been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Both they and their families find themselves in a maelstrom of fears with no coping mechanism in place. A center to turn to for support was sorely needed. Thus was born Ezer Mizion’s Division for Support of Cancer Patients and their Families. Countless letters are received from grateful families using the words: We never could have made it through without Ezer Mizion.
Encouragement from one who has ‘been there’ is extremely strengthening and that is why Pascale Berkowitz was invited to speak at Ezer Mizion’s Division for Cancer Support. Pascale had lost both of her legs in a horrifying train accident when she was sixteen years old. From one day to the next she went from being a bouncy teen, ready to conquer the world to being unable to fend for herself in basic ADL’s. In front of her were two roads – allowing herself to fall into the abyss of self-pity or moving forward from her new reality. With her i-can-do-it personality, Ms. Berkowitz chose the high road. Continue reading Devastated by Cancer…and Alone?
“I would wake up in the morning and my mind would begin to churn. Will the deal go through? Will Moishe remember his spelling for the big test today? Can we afford that vacation my wife wants so badly? That was before I attended the inauguration of the new Ezer Mizion building in Netivot and heard Chananya Chollak, Ezer Mizion’s founder, speak. His message was clear. We wake up in the morning and feel fine. Shouldn’t our first thought be: How can I help those that do not wake up feeling fine?” Thus said an attendee of the inauguration of the new Netivot building who has since registered as an Ezer Mizion volunteer. Continue reading The Inaugurating of the New Netivot Building
It wasn’t easy. Nothing is ever easy for this child. Avi* was born with cerebral palsy and suffers from other issues also. His life is complicated, to say the least. Avi had an appointment at the clinic and I was the Ezer Mizion driver assigned to take him. Another child would simply hop into the family car and buckle himself up. But not Avi. He needs to be transported with an Ezer Mizion vehicle especially outfitted for the disabled. He was strapped into an adjustable wheelchair with back support to counteract his spasms and prevent his accidentally flying out of the chair, certainly a dangerous situation in a moving vehicle. I positioned him facing backwards so that the inertia of a short stop will be absorbed by the sturdy back of the seat, not the much weaker seat belt. More minor adjustments. I did my best to provide a comfortable, safe ride for this child whose condition makes him dependent on others to provide for his every need. Or so I thought. It was only moments later that I discovered how much he has achieved on his own and is able to give to others. Continue reading Who Is the Giver? by Shmuel Strauss
All barriers fall to the wayside when the human heart encounters respect. Secular , Chareidi, Druze…it makes no difference. When the Israeli policeman watches an Ezer Mizion counselor, tzitzis flying in the air, gently placing a disabled child into a wheelchair with an encouraging pat on the cheek… When he sees the pride in the set of the shoulders as the counselor wheels his young charge down the plaza towards the kosel, the one place on this earth where all IQ’s are equal…When he recalls that these very special children are being cared for 24/7 by these very special counselors who are spending their vacation at Ezer Mizion’s camp and receiving no pay…respect wells up in his heart and he desperately wants to be part of this event. And so he, too, grabs hold of the handles of a wheelchair, and, for several minutes, he, too, proudly joins the parade of chessed. Continue reading Israeli Police and Yeshiva Students
“Hello, Ezer Mizion, this is the medical transport division…”
“Thank you, this is T. Would it be possible please to have a transport for tomorrow morning, going at 10:00 a.m. and returning at 1:00 p.m.?” – “Certainly, with pleasure. Please call and confirm again tonight.”
That is the pleasantness and good feeling that we witness again and again at Ezer Mizion, an organization that has long ago become a model of exceptional public service, especially for the ill and disabled. The service is wonderful, reliable, and punctual, and they maintain full confidentiality.
In the evening, when we call to confirm, we again feel the radiating pleasantness and empathy. The actual transport staff also gives such a good feeling. They are friendly and upbeat and do their work with their entire heart.
Thank you to all those involved, and especially to Mrs. Dassy, who orchestrates the entire network.
Wishing you continued strength to do your work with joy!
It wasn’t easy to make it to the wedding. I arrived home from work much later than I had planned. There was supper to prepare and homework to do with my kids but frozen pizza and a big sister who actually knew the math better than I did solved both problems and I made it in time for the chupa. I was patting myself on the back when I saw Adina. Adina??? She managed to come? Together with her husband?! Yes, they were both walking in together. Did I say walking? Let me qualify that. Adina’s husband has advanced Parkinsons and, though he can struggle with a walker for short distances, he is wheelchair-bound much of the time – a real challenge for someone who loves people and simchas and lives on the fourth floor… Continue reading Making the Difference between Wheelchair-Bound and Simcha-Bound