We’re There When It Hurts

Inauguration of Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Building 2013

Do you remember learning how to swim? In your panic, you may have tried to fight the water, thrashing about and soon finding that it didn’t work. ‘Relax,’ said the instructor. ‘Take slow strokes. Trust me. You can do it. True, it’s different. You’re not used to moving in water.  But it really can be done. Just don’t fight it.

‘I had been fighting it,’ says Yaakov. ‘Not the water but something else. Something much more scary.  And there was no instructor to encourage me. I was all alone, or so I thought, too terrified to face it. Too traumatized to seek help. The woman I had married, the mother of my children, had metamorphosed into …into. I couldn’t even say the word. I was fighting it, trying to make believe it wasn’t there. Then one day I did what i should have done months ago. I called Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Division. They understood immediately. I felt validated. I felt supported. I was no longer alone.  They opened my eyes and helped me understand that accepting the reality and ‘going from there’ is not only possible but the only option that will allow us to continue living our lives. “Thanks to Ezer Mizion, I started dealing with my situation, both on an individual basis and in a group framework. I received the tools and strength I needed in order to cope. To people who are in my position, I want to say: We did not choose these ‘gifts.’ Hashem chose them for us. He gives us the gifts and He also gives us the strength to deal with the situation. Whoever thinks he can escape reality and conceal it is mistaken. Ezer Mizion is my light in this saga. They help me achieve a better reality.  They have shown me that it is possible to deal with my challenges in a better way.

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Always Our Good Boy

Avi was always our good boy. The reports we always received about him expanded the heart and filled it with pride. Avi always had to be the best boy in the class and get the highest grades. With hindsight, we should have  been alerted to the  problem but we were too busy enjoying all the joy. In elementary school, too, he was at the top. We had no doubt that he would go to a high school.

And then, the principal called us in for a talk. He claimed that for Avi’s sensitive personality, a yeshiva with warm, personal attention would be better than a huge, bustling yeshiva. He was very definite but we knew better, so we thought. We felt that Avi could manage in a bigger place, too, and that, on the contrary, he would flourish there. So we sent Avi to the Yeshiva that we’d wanted from the start.

At the beginning of December, we sensed that something was awry with Avi. In Tevet, we were worried, and in January, we got a call from the Yeshiva office to come urgently to take Avi home because he wasn’t feeling well. When I came, I found him in his room, staring at the ceiling. He was apathetic and hardly communicated. I took him directly to the family doctor. He referred us for some tests, but claimed that Avi appeared to be physically healthy and he was concerned that he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

The days that followed were too hard to bear. We didn’t know where to turn and how to help our precious young man who was wilting before our very eyes. He lay in bed and refused to go out even for prayers.

He barely ate anything and refused to shower or go for a walk. Nothing interested him.  The smell in his vicinity was unbearable and the entire family was traumatized by the sounds and sights that emanated from his room.

We needed help desperately but how can we ask? We are the parents of a top student, aren’t we? We advise  others less fortunate than us- those unfortunate people with problems? It can’t be that we have become them! it was so hard but our son, our dear son. we can’t let pride – that great destroyer of lives – get in the way of helping him. Then we remembered some bits and pieces we had heard about Ezer Mizion having  a Mental Health Department. 100% confidential.  Should we? But… Well, we did.

Of course, it wasn’t simple. there was much trial and error. The staff held our hand throughout the ordeal.Their sensitivity was amazing. Avi received the right therapy and we received the emotional support that was so vital.

During the last eight months, Avi’s functioning has improved tremendously thank G-d and he recently started learning in a yeshiva near the house, with a small number of boys. He gets warm, personal attention there and has already integrated into the social circle and resumed a schedule of three study sessions a day.

I feel that Ezer Mizion saved Avi, me, and, actually, the entire family

Avi’s father

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Ezer Mizion on the Front Lines

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews celebrate during a Lag B'Omer gathering on Mount Meron in northern Israel on April 29, 2021 (David Cohen/Flash90)

Here at Ezer Mizion we are riding the waves of a raging ocean.

What originally started as an effort following the Meron tragedy to assist anyone dealing with trauma, quickly morphed into an emergency service for needs that have risen from the current escalating security situation. With frightening sirens blaring and missiles falling in central Israel, our professional teams are working around the clock and available for the increasing cases of people dealing with fear and anxiety.

From corona back then during those terrifying months to getting back to the “new normal”, living side by side with the covid reality after most of the adult population has either had corona or been vaccinated…

Then came Purim and Pesach with its intense kimcha dePischa (holiday food needs for the poor) campaign and food distribution. On to the spring/summer season, with the hope of opening our summer camps, both those for special needs and those for families dealing with cancer, this season.

Lag BaOmer was our next milestone, when we witnessed how Ezer Mizion quickly switched roles: from an ambulance transport servicing the mobility impaired in their efforts to get to the kever (grave) of the Rashbi in Meron, to a rapid rescue evacuation team for the victims of the Meron tragedy by our trained ambulance driver paramedics….

Our hospital teams worked around the clock to stand by the side of families of the 150 injured patients with food, transportation and support. We immediately opened an information hub to assist concerned family members in locating their loved ones, collaborating with police and other organizations. Our people were with the families at Abu Kabir, the forensic institute where they had to identify their loved ones for burial, a supporting shoulder to lean on at their darkest moments.

In the aftermath of the Meron tragedy, we activated our mental health support hotline to provide urgently need post-trauma support for people who were either at Meron itself, knew someone who was there or just needed support after experiencing terrible vulnerability.

And while still heavily involved in  that role, our emotional support hotlines have morphed to handle calls for emotional support from parents trying to deal with their scared children or loved ones and people in general experiencing anxiety due to the current security situation.

Living under the threat of air raid sirens, terrifying blasts and escalating violence has caused a serious uptick in emotional support needs. Many people are extremely frightened, and understandably so! Ezer Mizion is there for them with our professional team manning our mental health hotline.

In addition, we are sending packages of food to hungry soldiers manning stations in the south and to army camps where civilian entry is permitted.

Transportation to and from the hospital plus regular meals for family members continue as always but now greatly increased due to recent events. Please show your solidarity with the terrified residents of Israel by donating generously. Together we can embrace them in a loving hug of compassion and caring.

Tag your donation with the word ‘crises’ in dedication field. https://www.ezermizion.org/donate-to-ezer-mizion.html

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Torch of Chessed: Dementia among the Young

Roni’s Light

When dementia strikes at a young age, the tragedy is twice as terrible. Life as it was until now changes, even turns upside down. Every small action becomes a challenge. The struggle is not simple for the patient and for the immediate family.

Roni Klein, 60, father of two, was diagnosed a year and a half ago with “frontal-temporal dementia.” Roni participates in a range of activities at Ezer Mizion’s activity club for young dementia patients. “When I got the diagnosis, I went into initial shock. But very soon, I decided to fight for what I still had. There was also terrible anxiety about the future.

“Ezer Mizion’s club is a ray of light for me. There are wonderful people here and it makes me very happy to come, meet people who have become my friends and understand me and my need. I really enjoy the fitness program, music, art and gardening activities.”

The Tzipporah Fried Family Support Center runs support groups for spouses of young dementia patients. At this time, an additional support group is opening for the children of young patients.

Tzipporah Fried Family Support Center, a project of Ezer Mizion’s Geriatric Services, provides an array of support services and assistance to Alzheimer’s patients and their families, creating a unique response for this target population.

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A Cushion for Every Need

mental health .

Just like that, with a simple message, without a lot of noise, a member of one of the Ezer Mizion branches sums up the events of one evening:

In the middle of a Daf Yomi shiur (daily study session of Talmud), a friend, one of the participants , asked me to come with him right then (!) to a house where the wife had called for urgent help. As Ezer Mizion volunteers, we often receive calls like this. The woman was frantic saying her husband was having an anxiety attack. We were qualified to handle the situation and raced out. Continue reading A Cushion for Every NeedFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Their Challenges/ Our Mission/Your Pride

Each one was unique yet each one was the same. Each reflected an individualized situation much exacerbated by the Covid-19 situation. Yet each one was a desperate plea, “Please help me!’ sent  to the  address they have come to rely upon. Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life is a whatsapp network spanning Israel and around the globe which receives requests that are as varied as those that send them. It may be a need for transport for an oncology patient, delivery of vital meds, putting together a Bar Mitzvah for a boy whose father is in serious condition, picking up  medical equipment for a patient who cannot be released from the hospital without it. The list goes on and on.

During the pandemic, the Linked to Life networks were on fire. Requests didn’t stop. Linked to Life coordinated with other divisions of Ezer Mizion and was there for everyone in their time of need. Was it ten requests, a hundred, two hundred? and make no mistake. Each request did not have a one-step resolution. ‘I would check the network  and come back half a day later and see 600 more.’ said a staff member who had access to the network.  See chart above for the amazing numbers, all performed by our dedicated Ezer Mizion volunteers.

At the same time, all the other Ezer Mizion divisions – Bone Marrow Registry, Golden Age, Special Needs, Mental Health, Cancer Support, Transportation, Food Disbursement –  were working at full speed.  If we were to add those numbers, the totals would be mind boggling!  How does this happen? Because of you, our invaluable friends and supporters!

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Corona: Speaking from the Field

coronavirus

 

It’s all hands on deck in the battle of the current world wide war on the coronavirus. Ezer Mizion, known for its International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry, is focusing the energies of all of its numerous departments into dealing with countless crises brought about by the virus. We spoke with Dassy in Israel who is at the epicenter of it all. Continue reading Corona: Speaking from the FieldFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Serving Israel’s Mentally Ill

Image result for weights image

Always on the lookout for means of fulfilling the needs of vulnerable segments of the population, Ezer Mizion has recently opened a new physical fitness center for men dealing with mental health issues. The center focuses on weight lifting, muscle strengthening, and nutrition training. Its long-term mission is to prepare the client for gainful employment, enabling him to  gradually re-enter mainstream society. Continue reading Serving Israel’s Mentally IllFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Medicine and Jewish Law

pr gen R' Chollak IMG_9149Hundreds 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 LawFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Strike A Match – Part 2

pr wedding ringEzer Mizion’s Mental Health Department has hosted one of its many informational evenings. The subject of this recent event was on Mental Health and Marriage.  Questions such as when is marriage recommended for someone dealing with mental health issues, what type of spouse to look for, how to maintain a happy, healthy home were addressed. Continue reading Strike A Match – Part 2Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail