Next week is my birthday and I want…The words are those of an eight year old but can easily be the thoughts of a thirty-eight year old. She’s just learned to be more polite. Natural feelings. We like being pampered and appreciated. We may be giving parents, neighbors, friends but on a birthday, it’s nice to receive. But then there are others, those rare few, who receive the most by giving. They don’t even realize how special they are and will casually send a message like the one below.Continue reading A Network of Thousands of Family Members
A delightful video appears in the Inbox of an Ezer Mizion staff member. A chubby one-year-old is giggling as he tries to ‘catch’ the ball. Mommy’s laughter joins his childish giggles. Hers is a laughter of joy, of gratitude, of wonder. At his birth there had been no laughter. At his birth there had only been shock, terror and an all-pervading sadness. In the body of the email are words of thanks to Ezer Mizion: Thank you so much for all the help over the 2 months my wife was in the hospital with our baby (medical referrals, food, hot meals, snacks, hospital volunteers, transportation, emotional support, more food and hot meals, etc. etc. etc…..).
It is now almost a year since our Shlomo was born when all the doctors said there was a basically 0% chance that he was going to survive. As you can see, he is such a cute, amazing miracle. I just wanted to show you some of the results of your efforts. It is so special – all the support and help you give people in their difficult times.
The staff member scrolls down and there’s another one. This one is from Penina. She remembers Penina. One of her volunteers. Continue reading Scrolling Down the Inbox
It was a normal day. Just like every other Wednesday. Miriam* got the kids off to school, straightened out the house, put in a load of laundry and then left for her volunteer job delivering hot meals to families spending hours at a hospital bedside. Continue reading A Small Drink…A Big Thank You
It feels good to give. Seeing the joy on another person’s face because of something that you did is an experience that cannot be defined. I know about that. I joined Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life awhile back. L2L is a WhatsApp group that can be called for rides, deliveries of vital supplies and a zillion other requests by people who are dealing with serious illness. Continue reading The View from Both Ends of Giving
It’s 1:30 on a long summer Friday afternoon. There are twelve vehicles parked in the parking lot of Park Enav in Modi’in. The doors open and fifty-eight (!) children burst out of the cars ready for an afternoon of fun. Who are they?
Each one has a different story but the common denominator is that each one is living through a nightmare that no child should ever know. One has lost a parent to cancer, another is battling cancer himself and a third came home one day to find that his mother had gone on a simple shopping trip never to come home again due to a terror attack. Continue reading Nightmare: the Common Denominator
In light of the increase in the number of patients in Beersheba and the environs and a sharp rise in their needs, representatives of Ezer Mizion-Southern Region approached the Bet Moriah community and suggested a collaboration between Ezer Mizion and community volunteers. Continue reading The Negev Comes to Life
The scene: Schneider Hospital in Petach Tikvah
Baldheaded children, solemn doctors, the smell of sadness and suffering suffusing every corner…
Everyone here is busy battling for life, sometimes against all odds.
Who has time to think about the approaching Yom Tov? The thoughts wander from upsetting test results to grueling treatments and no further.
Shavuot? A far-off dream of some previous life…blintzes frying, tiny tots singing Little Torah, an atmosphere of joy and excitement.
This year? The ambience of a holiday would do wonders for their wounded souls but no one has the emotional energy to even smile. Will Shavuot 2018 just pass over, hardly noticed ?
Unbeknown to these suffering Jews, there was a small group who understood. They understood that these families were incapable of creating their own Yom Tov but how desperately they needed the feeling of holiness, the feeling of being part of the Jewish nation.
And so there, with the very air at Schneider’s laden with despair, they took time off from their own preparations and broke through the hopelessness, bringing light and happiness to these suffering Jews.
In the midst of this sea of sorrow and unimaginable pain, Ezer Mizion Petach Tikvah Linked to Life volunteers set up an island of holiday joy and tranquility.
Dozens of cancer support volunteers did everything to give seriously ill patients and their families a hiatus of calm and compassion. Holiday delicacies were prepared and attractively served and individual needs were met so that each family felt, “Yes, it’s Yom Tov today.”
As one volunteer described it (translated):
I link up to you, we all link together
And in just a matter of minutes
One cake is added to another
One dessert joins the next
Kugel after kugel is baked
And families of seriously ill patients will be able to enjoy delicacies this Shavuot too!
Allow us to dedicate the following to you, our precious volunteers:
“Rav Zeira (an ancient sage)said: This megillah (Ruth) – why was it written? To teach you the great reward of those who do chessed, loving kindness”
Rav Chananya Chollak chuckles when he recalls the modest beginnings of Ezer Mizion in 1979 during his shana rishona (first year of marriage).
“Everything was done out of our little apartment. The “receptionist” sat in the kitchen or the children’s bedroom. I sat in a cubicle of sorts at the entrance, and in the half-room sat the people waiting for consultations. Volunteers came to us to work on meals for distribution and they organized themselves in the bedrooms. The medical equipment that we gave out was stored in our home, although how it fit, I cannot imagine. The house was wide open to everyone – people in need, volunteers – all the time.
“Three years later, we felt that the apartment had become too small to accommodate the needs of Ezer Mizion and that the time had come to expand the work of the organization in an orderly manner. We moved to a larger apartment but the organization quickly outgrew that, too. A philanthropist helped us buy the apartment next door. Later on, we rented a few more such places around the city and Ezer Mizion continued providing services for its existing departments and developing further, without a stop. We’ve come a long way, baruch Hashem ((thank G-d).”
At the start, meals were delivered by the Chollaks and their friends to a handful of families. Today, hundreds of meals are delivered each day to family members spending their days at the bedside of a loved one in the hospital. Meals are also provided to afternoon programs for special children, and to families whose exhaustive attention to a patient does not allow them to cook for the rest of the family.
Today, Ezer Mizion works from a countrywide deployment of 57 branches. In addition to the original departments, Ezer Mizion now includes the loan of medical equipment, a hydrotherapy pool, a center for medical counseling and referrals, a division for social services, day nurseries for special needs children, a child development division, assistance for families dealing with mental health challenges, programs for the elderly and more. The organization has a network of over 25,000 volunteers throughout the country. The Bone Marrow Registry, the largest Jewish registry in the world, has close to a million registrants and has facilitated 2700 life-saving transplanted around the globe.
Twelve and Four Equal Sixteen
Not only are Rav Chananya Chollak’s work hours, which include nights, Shabbos, Yom Tov, geared to chessed but even his personal life He is the father of 16 children, four of them adopted.
“I met them in the course of my work at Ezer Mizion. There was a family of immigrants from Iran. Adjusting to a new country can be hard enough. This family found themselves to be living in a nightmare when the mother was stricken with cancer. There were four little children. I came for a home visit and saw the terrible poverty in which they lived. The refrigerator was totally empty. We brought volunteers to help with the child care and delivered daily hot meals for the family that had been living on almost nothing. We provided medical advice and referrals regarding the mother’s treatment. But, sad to say, two years later, she passed away. Things could not get worse, or so we thought until half year afterwards when the father also died of a brain tumor. The four orphans remained all alone.”
“After the shivah, the oldest daughter, who was then 13 years old, came to me,” he says, and in spite of the many years that have elapsed since, his voice trembles with emotion. “She cried when she told me that they were informed that the plan was to split them up among different institutions. Suddenly, she looked me in the eye and asked, “Maybe you could adopt us…?”
“Let me ask you, can anyone ignore such a plea?”
“I spoke with my wife and said to her: ‘It is entirely your decision.’ My wife, Leah A’H, the tzaddeket (righteous woman), agreed to take them,” he said with visible admiration.”
Rav Chollak relates very naturally to the four orphans and explains that they are his children in every respect. “They were little orphans who had simultaneously lost father and mother. True, the beginning was not easy as you can well imagine. But our natural children received them with a lot of love and they became an inseparable part of the family. Today the four are already married and we have grandchildren from them,” he says proudly. (To be continued.)
What happens afterwards? The thousands of members of Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life, a WhatsApp group, routinely answer each beep of their phone to see if they are able to respond to the next emergency. They probably wonder what happens after they pick up vital medication or drive someone to a hospital. Read on to see what happened after one Linked to Life volunteer responded to a request to drive a group of volunteers to Rambam Hospital. Continue reading A Volunteer Wonders What Happens Afterwards
It’s hard work. Ditza is exhausted each day as she makes her way home, usually quite past her official hours. She needed a bit of encouragement to put some verve into her steps. Recently that encouragement came in the form of two ‘notes from heaven’ showing how much Hashem values her efforts. Continue reading Meals on Wheels: Lottie’s Kitchen