What is Ezer Mizion? In addition to its Bone Marrow Registry and many other services, it is a factory. And the product? The product is smiles. Sometimes the going is rough. We may not be able to cure the disease but we can ease the pain and bring a smile to a face that hasn’t smiled in days. Like little Rachel* who has seen more pain in her four years than most adults have seen in a lifetime. Chemotherapy has stolen her innocent childhood from her and now she is on the way to Vienna with her mother and twin sister to continue treatment. Her mother packed a suitcase of the basics and Ezer Mizion packed a suitcase of smiles. If there is something that can ease the pain of a sweet little four-year-old girl somewhat, it’s Hello Kitty and so loving hands packed up every imaginable Hello Kitty item… a suitcase of emotional strength for the grueling months ahead.Continue reading The Smile Factory
Reb Mordechai was a ninety year old holocaust survivor. On the outside, he was a bent over, frail old man. But on the inside, there lived the memories of a robust, courageous soldier who fought alongside Rabbi Goren in the battle to liberate the Kosel (Western Wall). He trembles with spiritual joy as he recalls the first time he put on t’fillin (phylacteries) at the kosel. ‘Ribono shel Olom (G-d), we’re here!’ his soul cried out. And now, at the twilight of life, he yearned to re-experience that intimate nearness to his Creator. Not that many years ago, he would simply hop on the #1 bus but now, in his senior years, that was impossible. And so he continued to dream, knowing deep inside that there was no way his dream could become reality.
And so it would have continued had he not shared his dream with an acquaintance. Who knew someone…who knew someone…who knew someone who worked in Ezer Mizion. ‘A Make-a-Wish’ program? For elderly, holocaust survivors? Could it possibly happen?’
There were many details to iron out but one day, his heart singing with joy, Reb Mordechai found himself waiting outside the senior citizen home where he lived for the ambulance fully equipped for the mobility challenged.
What a day it was! He was welcomed by a representative of the Kotel Heritage Foundation who brought him to visit the Western Wall Chain of Generation Center. He received a gift of a sefer Tehilim (book of Psalms) with a personal inscription by the Rabbi of the Kotel. Throughout the day he regaled everyone he met with his stories about the battles for the Kotel and Me’aarat Hamachpelah during the Six Day War, keeping his listeners spellbound.
And then the climax. There it was. What he had seen only in pictures for so many years. In pictures and in his mind’s eye. There it was. Right in front of him. Its stones seeming to reach out to embrace their beloved son. His soul raced towards it, the ambulance driver barely able to keep up. His fingers touched their holiness. His hands shaking, he wrapped himself in his t’fillin. V’erastich li l’olom…(G-d, I am bethrothed to You forever)
Ezer Mizion’s Golden Age Division empowers Israel’s elderly population – many of them Holocaust survivors – to live out their years in comfort, dignity and satisfaction. The Golden Age Division offers an array of services and programs to seniors throughout Israel, including professional home care, social clubs, a make-a-wish program, Alzheimer’s intervention, a home repair program, and more.
In addition, all of Ezer Mizion’s standard services are available to the elderly: food distribution, ambulance and transport, and medical equipment loan are but a few of Ezer Mizion’s programs that benefit Israel’s elderly.
Ezer Mizion’s Fulfilling A Dream program offers the elderly the opportunity to choose an event they wish to experience, something they can look forward to. Ezer Mizion receives requests from social workers or family members of lonely, disabled, elderly people throughout Israel. After reviewing the requests, Ezer Mizion coordinates the logistics of making these dreams come true.
It was a day that no Jewish heart can forget. From the time of the Romans to the Ottomans to the British—strictures had been placed on what Jews could and could not do at the Western Wall. Benches and tables were mostly banned; at times it was the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn) or the mechitza that divides men and women at prayer services. For two decades, the Western Wall had been in Jordanian hands and completely inaccessible to Jews. And then came the Six Day War and suddenly, the Western Wall was in Jewish hands. Every Jewish soul responded – from the Hasidic Jew to those with no Jewish identity at all . Some understood. Others did not but their souls did. In a scene that was repeated many times over, the inner soul cried out:
“I want to say a prayer. What should I say?”
“Say Shma!” (universal Jewish prayer)
“But I don’t know how!”
“I’ll help you. Shma…”
All eyes were filled with tears. These hardened soldiers were unable to speak. They had one desire only to grab hold of the Wall and hold on tight. And there it was, in all its splendor. They were overcome and bowed their heads. Many of those heads had never been graced with a yarmulka (skullcap) but somehow knew that this…this was real.
The alley in front of the Western Wall was barely 15 feet wide. Even before the war was over, a group began clearing the area in front of it for a plaza. They began immediately after the Sabbath on June 10, and finished bulldozing the Mughrabi Quarter at 3 a.m., thus creating the Kotel plaza as we know it today which accommodates 60,000 people.
Eliyahu, a holocaust survivor, was one of those men. He was young and vibrant, sitting on top of his tractor doing his part as a loyal son. Today, 52 years later, he is no longer young, no longer vibrant. But that glorious day in history is as clear in his mind as the day it happened. And he yearned to visit the kotel once more, to witness the thousands that congregate on the area that he helped clear. His voice was wistful as he expressed his desire to the Ezer Mizion volunteer who had been visiting him regularly. On his own, it was impossible but with the help of the varied Ezer Mizion divisions, it all fell into place. An appropriate companion was found, all logistical hurdles were overcome. And there he is waving to us as his wish is about to come true.
He is only eighteen years old and his body is ravaged by cancer. But his neshoma (soul)? His neshoma is alive and well. For two weeks he was in a coma. His first words upon awakening: I’d like to go to the kosel.
And that’s where Ezer Mizion came in. Always searching for ways of easing the plight of cancer patients, the staff went into high gear. His physicians were consulted. The decision was that his condition would only allow a trip directly to the wall itself. Could Ezer Mizion make that happen? Key people were contacted. The police became involved. More calls. More meetings. And then…triumphant success. His young fingers would once again touch the stones of kedusha.
Please be mispallel (pray) for Nehurai Chaim ben Avigayil Chaya.