Hundreds of rabbis from across the country participated in a “Medicine and Halachah (Jewish Law) ” conference at the Convention Center in Haifa, organized by Maccabi Health Services. Maccabi is committed to provide uncompromising professional and efficient medical service, while adapting its advanced services and making them accessible to the religious public. This is accomplished through an open line of communication, sensitivity to the special needs, and constant consultation with the community’s rabbinic leaders. Maccabi proves, in practice, that ‘medicine according to halachah’ is possible and desirable. This conference created a positive connection between the religious communities and Maccabi. Continue reading Medicine and Jewish Law
It was a day that no Jewish heart can forget. From the time of the Romans to the Ottomans to the British—strictures had been placed on what Jews could and could not do at the Western Wall. Benches and tables were mostly banned; at times it was the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn) or the mechitza that divides men and women at prayer services. For two decades, the Western Wall had been in Jordanian hands and completely inaccessible to Jews. And then came the Six Day War and suddenly, the Western Wall was in Jewish hands. Every Jewish soul responded – from the Hasidic Jew to those with no Jewish identity at all . Some understood. Others did not but their souls did. In a scene that was repeated many times over, the inner soul cried out:
“I want to say a prayer. What should I say?”
“Say Shma!” (universal Jewish prayer)
“But I don’t know how!”
“I’ll help you. Shma…”
All eyes were filled with tears. These hardened soldiers were unable to speak. They had one desire only to grab hold of the Wall and hold on tight. And there it was, in all its splendor. They were overcome and bowed their heads. Many of those heads had never been graced with a yarmulka (skullcap) but somehow knew that this…this was real.
The alley in front of the Western Wall was barely 15 feet wide. Even before the war was over, a group began clearing the area in front of it for a plaza. They began immediately after the Sabbath on June 10, and finished bulldozing the Mughrabi Quarter at 3 a.m., thus creating the Kotel plaza as we know it today which accommodates 60,000 people.
Eliyahu, a holocaust survivor, was one of those men. He was young and vibrant, sitting on top of his tractor doing his part as a loyal son. Today, 52 years later, he is no longer young, no longer vibrant. But that glorious day in history is as clear in his mind as the day it happened. And he yearned to visit the kotel once more, to witness the thousands that congregate on the area that he helped clear. His voice was wistful as he expressed his desire to the Ezer Mizion volunteer who had been visiting him regularly. On his own, it was impossible but with the help of the varied Ezer Mizion divisions, it all fell into place. An appropriate companion was found, all logistical hurdles were overcome. And there he is waving to us as his wish is about to come true.
The President of the World Marrow Donor Association, Professor Jeff Szer, flew in from Australia to join Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry in celebrating its historic milestone of One Million registrants. . The celebration was attended by Israel’s Minister of Health and Minister of Defense, dignitaries and leaders from the medical and community sectors, together with financial sponsors, stem cell donors and recipients. Continue reading One Million!
He was eight years old. Third grade is a time for small boys to learn multiplication tables in the classroom and how to pitch a ball in the schoolyard. But Naftali* had learned neither of these. Instead he learned about IV’s and scary hospital equipment, about hair falling out and about roommates who ‘disappeared’ never to return. Naftali had cancer. The medical staff called his parents in for a meeting. There was only one recourse left: a bone marrow transplant. It would save his life but a genetic match would have to be found soon or… it may be too late. Jews will genetically match other Jews and so Ezer Mizion was contacted. Ezer Mizion’s registry with close to a million potential donors is the largest Jewish registry in the world, but, for Naftali, it was not large enough. There was no match. Continue reading L’chaim! To Life
It wasn’t easy. Acceptance never is. My children would grow up, marry. There would be grandchildren… And I wouldn’t be there. A small grandchild would have a part in the school Chanukah play. “Invite your grandmother, too,” her teacher would say. My little granddaughter’s face would cloud up,” She’s in heaven. She can’t come.” Continue reading He Was Only Young Boy
Stigma — one of the more difficult aspects of mental illness that patients and their families encounter again and again — is the subject that took center stage at the annual seminar held by the Ezer Mizion Mental Health Division’s Family Counseling Center, together with Israel’s Health Department.
The well-known authority in the field, Professor Avraham Weizman, head of the Mental Health Center research unit at Geheh and director of the Flossenstein Center for Medical Research at Tel Aviv University is deeply involved with people in this sector and is in constant contact with Chananya Chollak, Ezer Mizion International Chairman. Prof. Weizman discussed the effects of stigma in the overall protocol when dealing with mental health patients. The statistical data and studies he presented were intended to refute many of the common stigmas regarding people with mental illness.
Chananya Chollak spoke about the damage that concealment causes by preventing people from obtaining the appropriate treatment in time. He called upon the public to display responsibility and get help as soon as possible, so as to increase the chances of optimistically resuming life routine. How many times have professional staff members cried to him, saying, “If only he had come to be treated earlier! The prognosis would have been so much better.”
Prominent community leader, Rabbi Moshe Stein, a dayan on Rav Wosner’s beis din, discussed the halachic (Jewish Law) issues relating to mental health. He emphasized that it is important to present the true story to the Rabbis who will be discreet in advising when and how much should be revealed and to whom.
Rabbi Avraham Rubinstein, mayor of Bnei Brak, greeted the seminar attendees and lauded the tremendous contribution of Ezer Mizion in general, and particularly their Mental Health Division, to the Jewish people. Ezer Mizion offers a variety of psychological support services and rehabilitative programs for people suffering from psychological disorders, emotional issues and mental illnesses. These services include:
A Big Brother/Sister Program that pairs individuals suffering from mental illnesses with trained mentors who provide companionship, offer assistance with basic daily function, and teach the skills necessary for independent living.
Rehabilitative employment centers that provide mentally handicapped people with basic vocational training and employment, and ease their integration into free market employment.
A psychological referral team that recommends appropriate psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors to people grappling with emotional disturbances, mental health issues or difficult relationships.
A network of psychiatrists and psychologists throughout Israel who provide their services at a discount to patients referred by Ezer Mizion.
A 24-hour crisis hotline for non-medical emergencies, including mental health crises such as suicide attempts or severe manic episodes.
As the seminar closed, the hundreds of participants expressed great satisfaction at having received so much knowledge and empowerment in the subject of mental health as a whole, and specifically in the area of stigmas. Attendees hope to have more similar lectures which will gradually affect public opinion and look forward to a time when mental illness will present no more of a stigma than any medical condition.
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.
31 transplants, 23 from donor pools 3,033 total transplants 955,562 members in registry Transplant Countries
Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands,
New Zealand, Poland, Turkey, UK, USA Donor Pool Countries
Brazil, Israel, UK, USA