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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The “X” Days

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Helpless to cope

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Helpless to cope

It’s heartbreaking. Every mother jokes about the first day of school being the beginning of her vacation.  Our kids, as much as we love them, are a handful and many a mother will be drained, trying to keep up with their needs during the relatively unstructured summer months.

But then there are the others. The parents who truly cannot handle even one hour without the unbearable tension that accompanies life with a special child. As chaotic as a period of unstructured days may be, the parent of an average child cannot imagine marking her calendar with x’s on the days that he will be home.  One father of a special child did just that upon the realization and dread of the block of unstructured days coming up. Unfortunately, he is one of many. Continue reading The “X” DaysFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

 Autism: What It Is and What It Isn’t

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Taking the Mystery out of Autism

Autism is frightening. It brings to mind a child that not only has physical or cognitive disabilities but also cannot relate to and join normal society. There is a tremendous lack of understanding about the ASD spectrum which leads to compounding the fears of the average parent.   Continue reading  Autism: What It Is and What It Isn’tFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

A Special Yes

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Summer camp for Special Needs

What would you do? What would you do if a fellow Jew stood there in tears begging you for help? If her situation was so difficult that you knew you yourself couldn’t handle it? If your heart ached to offer at least some relief? What would you do? Wouldn’t you say yes? Of course, you would! We’re Jews. Known for our compassion. Continue reading A Special YesFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Battling Autism

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From the files of Ezer Mizion’s Rehabilitative Day Care Center for Autistic Children

Nurit was a striking little, three year -old girl, with  green eyes, dimples and blonde curls. But, although she was physically developed – she sat and stood and walked on her own in an age-appropriate manner, the little girl’s beautiful eyes were expressionless, and her socialization and communications skills were severely undeveloped. Nurit suffers from autism/PDD (pervasive developmental disorders) – a neurological disorder that affects a child’s ability to communicate, understand language, play, and relate to others. Continue reading Battling AutismFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail