How Do You Do It?

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Mental illness

Vacation. Just the word alone conjures up feelings of anticipation, happiness and relaxation of tension. Many studies have shown the value of a vacation even for those leading successful, fulfilling lives. And for those that are not?  Those that are battling the unimaginable challenges of mental health?

They experience a general feeling of well-being, increased self-esteem and a strong development of social bonds after taking part in the Ezer Mizion Mental Health Division Annual Retreat which gives them the positive energy to fight their battles in the months ahead. Continue reading How Do You Do It?


An Only Son

Rabbi Aharon Levi, Senior Administrator at Ezer Mizion’s Donald Berman Rehabilitation Center , visited Ezer Mizion’s retreat for men with cancer, sons and fathers, which took place at the Lavi Hotel in Northern Israel.
Rabbi Levi wrote up the following personal monologue, representing a drop in the painful ocean he observed in just one hour of the joy
“Please take your son, your only one, whom you love…and bring him up there as an offering”
Today, there isn’t a single hair on his head, just like the day he was born, but what they went through until he was born…
Fifteen years, an ongoing story of suffering, branded its mark. They almost collapsed from all the disappointment, worry and hope, so anxious were they to embrace a child of their own. Their prayers pounded at the Gates of Heaven, until the impossible happened. At last they lovingly held their one and only child in their arms.
A first tooth, a charming smile at Ima. She brought him to the baby clinic in his new coach carriage, glowing with a double measure of unconcealed maternal pride. Everything was so bright and promising, painted in pastel colors of his loving parents’ hope, prayers and deepest wishes. Loving, did we say? “Loving” is an understatement.
Shmulik, their only child, repaid his parents’ devotion with true nachas. He blazed his trail in the Torah world and strode confidently on the path to happiness, to the peak of his life.
A shattered plate heralded his engagement. His parents, who had waited so eagerly for this point in life, could hardly contain their joy. Their imagination began to work overtime. Soon… soon the time would come.
Just two days later, on erev Shabbat, something was not right. Shmulik was suddenly gripped by sharp, intolerable stomach pains. His mother’s face grew serious, a wrinkle of concern etched between her brows. Her only son, who at this very moment should be making his way to the home of his bride’s family, was writhing in agony. Sometimes, a mother’s heart is more piercingly accurate than an x-ray. A mother’s eyes know how to penetrate with unseen rays of anxiety. She insisted on a more comprehensive test, in-depth. They took him for an MRI. Then they were told: The doctor will see you now. Go into the doctor. He will explain everything. But he did not even have to explain. The niggling doubt instantly turned into a horrible certainty. And on the other end of the route, a young bride already sat at the bus stop, waiting…
He underwent chemotherapy treatments, radiation set out to fight its difficult battle. The treatments left their malevolent mark. His hair fell out, and his head was exposed, just like the day he was born.
The suffering stuck with him like a shadow. The aches and pains held fast. For long months, he did not see the light of day and did not cross the threshold of the Sheba Hospital. As circumstances would have it, I met Shmulik and his parents several times at the Oncology Institute. I always felt a swelling ache. His personal story touched me to the quick. I was hurled into echoes of Avraham’s final test, “Please take your son, your only one, whom you love…and bring him up there as an offering.”
I watched as Ima held his hand on one side, and Abba on the other. They were not walking him down the aisle toward the chupa. Instead they walked him once again to another treatment in the chemotherapy furnaces.
Last night, we met again, this time in the delightful kibbutz air of the Lavi woods, at the Ezer Mizion retreat for the dozens of fighters who are fighting their battle for the most precious treasure of all, for life itself. A kind of pride enveloped me, and in my bones, I felt the special feeling of being aligned with the giving side, of belonging to the Ezer Mizion family so caring that it knows how to choose just the right melody and give these fighters a the joy that strengthens the spirit. Yes, we are partners in their battle.
I felt a shock of light, the kind that lifts you to hours of spiritual elevation and detaches you from the rough, gray, mundane world directly to a world of purity, nobility and unabated giving. I experienced the circles of blazing joy that swept away fearsome thoughts of the disease. It was like a bubble of stopped time in the shadow of the rapidly ticking clock from which there is no escape.
To see Shmulik jumping in the air and dancing as if tomorrow did not exist, as if he was doing final rehearsals for his wedding, the happiest day of his life. Yes, in another 24 hours, he will return once again to the hospital sheets and the sickening scent of powerful medicines. Again he will have to enter the landmine of bone marrow transplants. But our people here at Ezer Mizion will just redouble their efforts to embrace him and his enervated parents, pumping into them a spirit of hope in their constant battle with the specter of despair.
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CP Won’t Stop Me! part two

Menachem Weiss, a “special” teen with CP, reports every week to Merkaz Ha’inyanim on an angle of life that he alone can talk about
Ezer Mizion Retreat 5774 – Continued
Shalom dear readers!
I already told you about the first days of the retreat. There was so much going on that I couldn’t finish it last time I wrote .pr sp CP Matan reteat 2014 10455222_342417389244537_6490612914829628756_n
On Monday morning, there was a learning session with Yair Avitzur, the head of our group, and he prepared us for the public test that would take place on the last day of the retreat. I usually do ok but all that prep certainly doesn’t hurt. Continue reading CP Won’t Stop Me! part two


My Son’s Oxygen

Wednesday, 22 Sivan, 5774
Dear Rabbi Chollak:

Thank You!

My son Oren, a 28-year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome, and we, his family, are familiar with Ezer Mizion and meet up with them twice a year – at the retreat for special-needs young adults and at the Simchat Beit Hasho’evah.

These two events are literally his oxygen supply. Continue reading My Son’s Oxygen


I’m Nervous…

Menachem Weiss, a “special” teen, reports every week to Merkaz Ha’inyanim on an angle of life that he alone can talk about
Winding Up the Summer
Shalom dear readers!
It’s that time of year and I’m nervous again.
Ezer Mizion’s retreats for CP guys like me are fantastic. They’re a lot of fun. Being with friends who share the same experiences is…well, I have no words to describe it. But still I get nervous. pr spec CP Matan 2014 10487420_342417442577865_7608780507596901650_n
One retreat is always not so far from home, and if there is a problem, someone from my family can come right away.
I’ve been going to these retreats for many years now, since I was a little boy. And each year I arrive feeling tense. Continue reading I’m Nervous…