To Really See. To Really Care.

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.

Rabbi Chananya Chollak

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. 

Cancer Support Comes in Many Forms

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.

Caring Eases the Trauma

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.

A Day to Look Forward to for the Disabled

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,

Y.S.

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The Only Thing that’s Impossible Is Saying No

“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.

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From the Ezer Mizion Files

To the staff at the Ezer Mizion kitchen,

Hot Meals for Families Dealing with Serious Illness

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved the kitchen, with all its secrets, magic, and aromas. At age ten, I functioned like a young chef. After I got married, I opened a boutique catering business at home for pastries and specialty dishes, and this served as an adequate source of income for our young family.

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Whenever, Wherever, Whatever

Royalty Free Clipart Image: Coffee Sitting on a Bistro Cafe Table | Cafe  tables, Table, Homemade chai tea
The Dream of an Elderly Senior

A simple pleasure. One that many people experience on a daily basis. But for Luba, an elderly holocaust survivor, it was never in the forefront of her plans for the day. Now as she reaches her golden years and resides in a senior living home, she discovered the enjoyment of sitting in a café.  Through Ezer Mizion’s Make-A-Wish program which enables the holocaust survivor to strengthen his feelings of ‘me’ by choosing a treat of their own liking, Luba’s friend had requested to re-experience a visit to a café. Traveling to a real one was out of the question for her. Ezer Mizion therefore simulated a café on the grounds of the home. The friend invited Luba and in this way, Luba experienced the enjoyment she had missed in her younger years. Now it was her turn to ‘make a wish. Without a moment’s hesitation, she said, “I want to go to a real cafe.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

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Because of You!

Monthly Stem Cell Transplant Update

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Building with Bricks

Special child joins the groom under the chupah

It’s a constant refrain at the wedding and the whole week of celebrating parties. Boneh bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel . The couple will build a new home based on Torah values. A home of yiras shomayim (awareness of G-d). A home of chessed.

To build, one must have bricks. One chosson (groom) brought his ‘brick’ to the wedding itself. He had begun forming his ‘brick’ many years before when he became a volunteer for Ezer Mizion’s Special Needs Division. Both at camp and during the school year, he devoted himself to the needs of this very special little boy. Ariel became the pillar that the child and his beleaguered parents would lean on. Ariel would call to find out how his special little friend was doing only to find he had a bad day at school when another child grabbed away his cupcake and gobbled it up. Moments after the phone was hung up, Ariel would appear at the door with a cupcake in hand and his trademark smile, accompanied with a loving hug.  Should there be a family simcha (celebration), the parents knew they could count on being able to leave their child with Ariel where they were assured of his receiving the love and attention with all of his needs met.

And, of course, there was camp where Ariel was his counselor. They knew their son was fortunate. Ariel was his counselor 24/7. Every moment of the day. A bunk consisting of one child who basked in his counselor’s love from getting him dressed in the early morning to a goodnight hug at dusk with tons of activities during the day geared just for him.

And now Ariel, at the cusp of building his own home together with his new kallah (bride), made sure to bring his ‘brick’ with him to the chasuna (wedding).  As always, his special friend remained close at his side with Ariel keeping an eye out to be sure he had a great time. During the kabolos panim, the dancing and even at the chupah, there he was the first ‘brick’ of their new home. May he and his kallah work together to create many more bricks and may Hashem look down at the home they are building and smile with nachas.

In 1988, Ezer Mizion opened Israel’s first summer camp for children with special needs. Since then, the network of Ezer Mizion special needs summer camps has grown to include 7 camps, over 1,500 staff members and volunteers and over 1,200 children with physical handicaps, brain damage, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, autism, blindness, deafness and emotional disorders. For these youngsters and their families, Ezer Mizion’s summer camps are the highlight of the entire year.

The camps, called “B’Lev Sameach” – literally, “With a Happy Heart” – have a full schedule of exciting activities, outings and recreation from morning to night, with all meals and transportation included. The children enjoy live entertainment, trips to amusement parks, zoos, and beaches, and visits to the Kotel and other special places. All of the children are paired with individual counselors who shower them with one-on-one attention, care, and love.

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Can I Help You?

‘Can I help you?’ These are words we hear all the time, usually in a commercial setting. The meaning behind them is: How can I satisfy you so that you will make a purchase and I can benefit from the profit. Rare is the meaning to be taken literally. Except with compassionate people like Ezer Mizion staff and volunteers who are searching for more and more ways of alleviating the plight of those suffering from life’s crises.

A few weeks ago, a toddler was badly burned. Ezer Mizion embraced the family with all that was needed, including daily rides to the hospital via our Linked to Life service. Two sample stories from the father:

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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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Wherever, Whatever, Whenever We’re Needed

Giving…with all our heart

Do you know where Kiryat Shemoneh is? Many people have never heard of it.  It’s a-l-l the way up North in Israel. Somewhere out there at the far, far end of the country. Geographically so distant from the nearest metropolis.  A bit lonely, perhaps, but certainly not alone.   Even there, Ezer Mizion’s dedicated volunteer works hard to prepare Shabbat meals for a lonely patient, spiced with lots of love. She does it together with dozens of other volunteers, who share one giant heart. Together they arrange meals for patients and their families for weekdays and Shabbat, feeding dozens of patients, adults and children, dispersed throughout the North, from Netanya all the way up to Kiryat Shemoneh

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Because of You!

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