It’s time for lunch and Bracha*, the home attendant, prepared a nice meal of tuna salad with sliced pickles just the way her patient, Chaya* likes it. The corn soup was in the green bowl, Chaya’s favorite. “Come, Chaya. I made you such a nice lunch. Chaya raced to the table and, in a fury, hurled the corn soup at Bracha and dumped the plate of tuna into the garbage. In horror, Bracha watched as each slice of pickle she had so lovingly prepared flew across the kitchen. “You hate me! You’re trying to poison me!” Hurt? Probably. Sad? It was a beautiful lunch. Frustrated? Well, she is human… Angry? Of course not. Bracha is an Ezer Mizion home attendant and has absorbed the caring, compassionate and understanding ambience of the organization. She knew it was the Alzheimers that was making Chaya act this way.
“Come, Chaya,” she crooned with her arms around her patient. “Don’t cry. You know I love you. Just sit down for a few minutes and I’ll make you another lunch just the way you like it.”
Aharon Shmueli, a holocaust survivor, is part of a large family but he was lonely. Confined to his wheelchair and further restricted by covid isolation, he and his eight siblings had not seen each other for two years. When asked by Ezer Mizion to choose a ‘wish’, it took only seconds for his decision: a family get-together. Would Ezer Mizion be able to make it happen? To bring nine elderly siblings, many with mobility problems, together? Aharon’s excitement could not be contained. “Any update?” he would ask whenever he saw the Ezer Mizion staff member. His every daydream was what he wanted to tell them, the eight people in the world with whom he shared a special relationship. As children, they lived through the horrific experience of their escape from Tolousse, France, the terror of hiding out in a farm managed by their father, scared that any moment may be their last. Together they shared the rebuilding of their lives. Marriage. Children. And now old age. As Sara, one of the sisters, put it, “When we get together, we become children again…connected…strengthened…whole.
The senior citizen residence that was Aharon’s home became the venue and four fully-equipped Ezer Mizion ambulances were set aside to provide transportation for the Shmueli family members who were not able to travel alone. And suddenly there they were. With hugs and kisses. With shouts of joy. Once again sitting around a table together. Laughter and tears. Two years of experiences to share as only brothers and sisters can.
Azaryah Shmueli commented that “for almost two years, we didn’t get together, all of the siblings. In the past, we used to meet at least three times a year. It was really difficult to organize the meeting. Some of the siblings are disabled, some live out of town.”
At the end of their dream-like day, Aharon expressed his feelings with deep emotion. “Thank you for making my wish a reality.”
Naomi Mizrachi, director of Ezer Mizion’s “Fulfill a Wish”: “It is a great merit for us to make dreams come true for elderly holocaust survivors. Even when the wish is challenging, we do everything in our power to carry it all out in the best possible way. So far, over a year and a half we’ve been privileged to make about 780 wishes come true. The wishes were as varied as the people making them for one it was a trip to the ocean, for another, it was a shopping trip at the mall. And a third wanted to get together with an old friend whose address she didn’t know. Many wished to visit the kosel(Western Wall). Or daven (pray) once again in the shul (synagogue) of their youth. Tremendous efforts are involved in working out the logistics in a manner that is safe for these precious survivors. (Yes, we found the address of the friend.) But the happiness on the faces of these holocaust heroes is well worth it. ”