Giving Wherever There Is a Need

Giving on Wheels

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….?

Re-living her child in pre-holocaust Ukraine

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.

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A Golden-Ager’s Day

An Elderly Holocaust Survivor ‘Comes Home’.

Reb Mordechai was a ninety year old holocaust survivor. On the outside, he was a bent over, frail old man. But on the inside, there lived the memories of a robust, courageous soldier who fought alongside Rabbi Goren in the battle to liberate the Kosel (Western Wall). He trembles with spiritual joy as he recalls the first time he put on t’fillin (phylacteries) at the kosel. ‘Ribono shel Olom (G-d), we’re here!’ his soul cried out. And now, at the twilight of life, he yearned to re-experience that intimate nearness to his Creator. Not that many years ago, he would simply hop on the #1 bus but now, in his senior years, that was impossible. And so he continued to dream, knowing deep inside that there was no way his dream could become reality.

And so it would have continued had he not shared his dream with an acquaintance. Who knew someone…who knew someone…who knew someone who worked in Ezer Mizion. ‘A Make-a-Wish’ program? For elderly, holocaust survivors? Could it possibly happen?’

There were many details to iron out but one day, his heart singing with joy, Reb Mordechai found himself waiting outside the senior citizen home where he lived for the ambulance fully equipped for the mobility challenged.

What a day it was! He was welcomed by a representative of the Kotel Heritage Foundation who brought him to visit the Western Wall Chain of Generation Center. He received a gift of a sefer Tehilim (book of Psalms) with a personal inscription by the Rabbi of the Kotel. Throughout the day he regaled everyone he met with his stories about the battles for the Kotel and Me’aarat Hamachpelah during the Six Day War, keeping his listeners spellbound. 

And then the climax. There it was. What he had seen only in pictures for so many years. In pictures and in his mind’s eye. There it was. Right in front of him. Its stones seeming to reach out to embrace their beloved son. His soul raced towards it, the ambulance driver barely able to keep up. His fingers touched their holiness. His hands shaking, he wrapped himself in his t’fillin. V’erastich li l’olom…(G-d, I am bethrothed to You forever)

Ezer Mizion’s Golden Age Division empowers Israel’s elderly population – many of them Holocaust survivors – to live out their years in comfort, dignity and satisfaction. The Golden Age Division offers an array of services and programs to seniors throughout Israel, including professional home care, social clubs, a make-a-wish program, Alzheimer’s intervention, a home repair program, and more.

In addition, all of Ezer Mizion’s standard services are available to the elderly: food distribution, ambulance and transport, and medical equipment loan are but a few of Ezer Mizion’s programs that benefit Israel’s elderly.

Ezer Mizion’s Fulfilling A Dream program offers the elderly the opportunity to choose an event they wish to experience, something they can look forward to. Ezer Mizion receives requests from social workers or family members of lonely, disabled, elderly people throughout Israel. After reviewing the requests, Ezer Mizion coordinates the logistics of making these dreams come true.

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Holocaust Survivors in their Golden Years

pr golden 2 14 yom tzilulim DSCF1200
We give the holocaust survivor practical assistance. They give us so much more.

Companionship. A vital need at every stage of life. And especially essential for the holocaust survivor. Rivka is a typical survivor.   She was born in 1930, in Lodz and grew up with her parents and three siblings in a warm, supportive family. But the war came crashing down on this idyllic family life and young Rivka was left all alone. Illness took the lives of her parents and her siblings perished in Auschwitz and Treblinka. Life as she had known it was no more and the future looked bleak indeed. But brick by brick, she rebuilt her life, marrying and raising a family. And now at 87 years old, she sits, absorbed in her memories, in need of the companionship of those who understand. Spending her days in a rocking chair by the window would be perfectly acceptable but she doesn’t want that. She wants to laugh. She wants to share. She wants to connect with others. And so Rivka became a member of Ezer Mizion’s ‘British Café Club’ and, for the past four years, has not missed an activity. Whatever the weather – cold, rainy, scorching hot – Rivka is there. Bright and bubbly and ever so grateful to the staff. Recently she fell and fractured her arm. But that didn’t stop her. Her arm ensconced in a cast, she surprised everyone  at the next event, showering blessings upon each individual staff member.  “I’m a holocaust survivor and my blessings have substantial weight in heaven,” she says as she moves on to the next person with her warm words of praise. Continue reading Holocaust Survivors in their Golden YearsFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Golden Volunteers

 

 

 

 

pr Golden Bat Yam volunteersFive Bat Yam retirees awarded the “Golden Volunteer” medallion for 2016 for their volunteer work in the community. Another 16 were honored for their volunteering

For the sixth year running, the “Golden Volunteer” ceremony was held in Bat Yam, as part of the schedule of events for “Retirees’ Month,” which salutes the senior population.

The highlight of the event was a film describing the retirees’ volunteer activities, including interviews with the people who nominated the awardees for the honor. Five seniors were awarded the “Golden Volunteer” medallion and another sixteen received certificates of honor.

The five recipients of the “Golden Volunteer” medallion were: Rabbi Yaakov Rozha, neighborhood rabbi, Reservist Lieutenant Colonel serving in the Military Chief Rabbinate, and a volunteer for Zaka (identification of terrorist victims); Chava Stern, community volunteer for decades in the Cancer Association, Akim, Ilan, and the Soldiers’ Benefit Association; Ruth ben Simchon, volunteer at the seniors’ day center; Mirit Dayan, volunteer at Wolfson Medical Center’s oncology ward; and Binyamin Abramov, volunteer at the Bat Yam branch of Ezer Mizion.Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

The Golden Age?

pr golden 2 14 yom tzilulimIt’s called the Golden Age. From the vantage point of a younger person, it truly seems golden. No difficulties with toddlers or raising a difficult teen. No problematic boss to please. No mortgage payments to meet. The senior can just sit back and enjoy her accomplishments. But is it really so? Now let’s change hats and sit on the senior’s rocking chair. No children who need her to kiss the boo-boo away. No shared smile of satisfaction with a daughter when the perfect Yom Tov outfit s finally found. No challenges. No satisfaction in meeting those challenges. The former frantically-busy-mother wonders just what she is doing in the world. Gradually, lacking the stimulus of natural challenge, she forgets how to think, how to problem solve, how to plan. Lacking goals, she is miserable, depressed with no idea how to extricate herself from the dilemma. Continue reading The Golden Age?Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

It’s Only a Game…or Is it?

 

pr golden 2 14 yom tzilulim DSCF1594Esty had absorbed the message that pervades every nook and cranny at Ezer Mizion: “What else can we do to help those in need?” Esty was hired as a Developmental Aide who met with special needs children several times a week, working to attain the goals set by the therapists. Being well trained in the field and blessed with a lot of initiative and great ideas, she developed a program using games to help meet those goals. A classic Candyland game could work wonders if utilized in the right way, she discovered. It was not long before she was heading Ezer Mizion’s newly founded Game Lending Library. Therapists would use the games to supplement their own supplies and families with special children would meet with her and borrow games based on her recommendation.

A busy mother, at her wits end, is told that her child will grow so much more if Mommy does ‘homework’ with him each day. It’s not that she doesn’t want to obey the therapists’ instructions. It’s not that she doesn’t care about her child reaching his potential. Continue reading It’s Only a Game…or Is it?Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

I Missed Mine!

pr golden holocaust surv bas mitzvah 2016Many Holocaust survivors have built anew and are now successful heads of multi-generational families. But there in the recesses of their being lies the childhood that never was. They don’t speak about it. An adult would feel foolish expressing his regret over never having had the opportunity to play with dolls. But it’s there. Or rather, it is not there. A void that cannot be filled. Among themselves, the sorrow may come up in conversation. And at one other place: an Ezer Mizion Social Club for Holocaust Survivors. It was there that an idea was born.

As these heroes attend their grandchildren’s Bas and Bar Mitzvahs, their hearts are filled with pride. Yet there lurks that germ of regret. “I missed mine.”

Would a formal celebration during the Golden Years serve as closure for the childhood celebrations lost in the wisps of crematoria smoke. Call it a Bas Mitzvah. Call it a closure of sorts. Would it serve to put to rest, once and for all, a few of the demons that still invade in their souls? Continue reading I Missed Mine!Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Ezer Mizion Elad Troops in Action

pr phoneEzer Mizion, the Caller ID reads.
“Are you available to drive a patient to the hospital today at four?” Eli’s forehead wrinkles in thought and he makes the calculations. “I’ll take it.”
His cell phone vibrates. “This is Dr. Kluger’s secretary,” You have an appointment in another two weeks but a slot became available today at four. Interested?”
Yes, very interested. His foot has been waiting for over a month to be seen by the overbooked, expert orthopedist. True, it’s nothing critical but the nagging pain… Perhaps he should cancel the volunteer trip? Just this once…
“No,” he heard himself say. “I’m booked this afternoon.”
A soldier in the Ezer Mizion army does not go AWOL. Continue reading Ezer Mizion Elad Troops in ActionFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Aging with Dignity by Kobi Arielli

pr depressionThis journey of mine into the heart of the Ezer Mizion world enters its eighth week. Every week, I reveal another chapter here, in our little corner. So far, we have only touched on a small fraction of the sweeping empire of activity.
Throughout this ongoing overview, during which I have met up with the people at work and have seen the various projects in action, I cannot help asking myself one question – a rather frightening one: What if all this did not exist? These are not government systems under official auspices. They are complementary, civilian, alternative systems. They are the product of private initiatives, supported by donations. They are a bonus that our civilian society is privileged to have at its disposal and that are so basic and self-understood!
Question: What does a family do when their loved one is stricken with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia?
The medical establishment will do its part to the best of its ability (in this case, that is easy enough: to inform the family that there is nothing to do…). But what’s next? How do you deal with a new reality in which a father or grandfather gradually loses his awareness and becomes helpless and disconnected, while his body remains whole and healthy? How do you protect him? How do you relate to him? How do you bear the pain and frustration? What do you do?
You turn to Ezer Mizion.
pr golden 2 14 yom tzilulim DSCF1639And what do you do in situations that are not quite so miserable, when you simply reach a stage where you are compelled to assist a parent or other relative who is gradually losing his independence and leaning on the care of others?
You turn to Ezer Mizion.
There, families of Alzheimer’s patients find their first hope for redemption from their impossible situation. They are presented with a course of action that ends up easing not only their burden, but the life of the patient himself. This takes place at the Organization’s Alzheimer’s Support Center, serving very many families in Israel.
This work is only a small part of the comprehensive system Ezer Mizion operates for the benefit of seniors and their families. Here, these precious elderly people, who initiated and established and exerted efforts and lovingly prepared everything for those who are now compelled to care for them and assist them – are given the special attention they have earned. A huge division of Ezer Mizion pools within it the spectrum of services needed by the senior and his family with an emphasis on setting up the environment so that the elderly individual will receive the optimum care.
Caregiver services, a counseling center, an empowerment center, walking groups, a variety of workshops, visits by volunteers, the Bonding with Motion program (a fascinating project that I intend to expand upon in the future) and more, without bounds.
I find it amazing. That there is an address. That there is somewhere to turn. That there is a way to ease pain that is not physical. That there is someone to talk to. That there is – Ezer Mizion.Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

“Intergenerational Family Relations in the Multi-Cultural Society of Israel”

The prestigious Journal of Intergenerational Relationships (JIR) has published an article prepared by Ezer Mizion’s Geriatric Services. JIR is published by Taylor & Francis, an international publisher whose headquarters are in Philadelphia and London. The article appeared in the recent special issue, “Intergenerational Family Relations in the Multi-Cultural Society of Israel,” guest edited by Ariela Lowenstein and Ruth Katz and is titled “Bonding through Motion: A Physical Activity-Based Approach for Strengthening Relationships between Elderly People and their Caregivers”. The article explains the Bonding through Motion project that was created by Ezer Mizion’s Geriatric Services professional staff which has been successfully implemented in hundreds of families caring for an elderly, homebound loved one. The article is available at
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/15350770.2015.992954#previewFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail