For the last three years or so, I have had the honor of serving Ezer Mizion in an original and unique way. I do not physically help the patients. I don’t volunteer to distribute meals, provide transport, attend patients, or give money. Unfortunately, my monetary contributions to the organization are not too impressive. Instead, I try to give my “professional donation”: Over the last few years, I participated in dozens of Ezer Mizion’s parlor meetings in the role of guest performer. After the participants are exposed to the organization’s tremendous story, after they ask all their questions, get all their answers, and choose for themselves the area in which they would like to contribute – it’s my turn. I step up and close the evening with a short comic performance, so as to send the people home with a smile on their face. These events, a model of beautiful community volunteering, almost always take place in a private home. The hosts offer their homes for this purpose and invite their friends over to expose them to Ezer Mizion’s work. The participants enjoy tastefully prepared refreshments, courtesy of the organization’s kitchen staff, listen to a speech given by a representative of the organization with an overview of their activities, see a promotional film describing one of the hearts of the organization’s activities – the Bone Marrow Registry, ask questions, give donations, have the honor of watching me – and home they go.
In Ezer Mizion’s typical fashion, the representative who trudges out to present the organization before groups of 20-50 people, many times, is none other than its founder and International Chairman, Rabbi Chananya Chollak, the pillar of chessed of our generation. While I wait for my turn to do my bit, I yawn, fiddle with my cell phone, pilfer a cheese blintz from the cordoned-off refreshment bar, etc. I’ll tell you the truth: I don’t even watch the video any more. The first time I saw it, it made me cry, the second time, it gave me the chills, the third and fourth, it moved me – and that’s it. Since then, my sensitivities were dulled. I’m only human. I can’t get all worked up about a film, moving as it may be, after seeing it thirty times.
Next to me sits Rabbi Chollak – a great man, a busy man. I watch him from the corner of my eye. He watches the video with interest. Come on, I say to myself. How many times can he watch the same video?
Then, time after time, it happens: The film ends off at an unbelievably moving climax (I won’t tell you what it is, see for yourselves), the lights go on, and Rabbi Chollak… takes out a tissue from his pocket, removes his glasses and dries the tears. This man, whose entire adult life is a sequence of dealing with harsh, depressing cases and situations, who has seen everything and heard everything, this man manages to shed tears for the thousandth time at a video that he saw countless times. Once again, I feel I understand the secret of Ezer Mizion’s magic: People. A radiant group of people, unusual people, whose feelings are never dulled. On the contrary. Their feelings are a tremendous springboard for unending activity.
So for me, Ezer Mizion is not just a “Chessed Empire” or any other grandiose title. To me, it is simply Chananya’s crumpled tissue dabbing at a tear on the lens of his glasses at the end of a video about a bone marrow transplant. That is Ezer Mizion.
To share Chananya’s Chollak’s tears: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZKJJUDkEpg