Behind the Scenes at Ezer Mizion with its Founder, Chananya Chollak Part 3 of a Three Part Series

March 21, 2018



chananya cholak speaking at camp

Rav Chollak speaking at a camp for cancer patients and their families

he many tragedies that Rabbi Chollak, founder of Ezer Mizion, is exposed to in the course of his work did not immunize him against the personal tragedy that struck: About three years ago, Leah, his wife and the mother of his sixteen children, passed away after battling cancer. She was 57. From the start, the doctors had said that for her kind of cancer, you can usually stretch things out for about eight years. Sadly, it did not take even that long; she died a little over a year later.

“I have been asked difficult questions,” says Rav Chollak, “For instance: You and your wife took care of so many sick people, and now, she herself succumbed to the illness. Do you feel any anger?

“My answer is: ‘Look, I don’t know any more than you do. Hashem does only good, so it cannot be that He did something not good to me. We are merely human beings and it is clear to me that there are things that cannot be understood by the human mind. It’s our job to be good people. Nothing more. Nothing less.’

Rav Chollak idolized his wife. “It is important for me to stress that Leah z”l built Ezer Mizion together with me, with her own hands. I didn’t do anything alone. She was a great woman, full of life wisdom. If she had not dedicated herself to this project – it definitely would not have been able to grow and develop with the systematic, all-embracing programs that help the patient from those first terrifying moments to the happy ending that they daven for.

“It often begins with a woman becoming ill. She needs medical counseling, a caring professional to ‘hold her hand’ to determine what to do next. Sometimes she can be confronted with an appointment for a crucial test being made for three months hence. We make it our job to change that absurd appointment to something closer.

“The children at home are going through a difficult time with their parents unable to be there for them, physically or emotionally. We try to take over in many, many different ways. A Bar Mitzvah where there would otherwise not be one… a trip to buy school supplies…someone to do homework with the kids…a center with professional therapeutic activities… family retreats…and, most important, someone to talk to. I give my cell phone out to a lot of kids who need it and tell them to call me whenever they like. They know I care so they’re not shy.

“We have programs for the parents, everything from professional therapy and support groups to fun days and trips.  Having personally experienced this challenge of a sick spouse, I know exactly what it means to see the person closest to you suffering and fighting a battle for life. It tears the heart to the core,” he sighs.

“Services are provided to all applicants,” Rabbi Chollak stresses. “The entire range of the Jewish people comes to us – secular, religious, Chareidi, everybody.

“You see it tangibly at the meetings of stem cell donors and their recipients. They embrace emotionally – a secular fellow who saved the life of a Chareidi, a Dati-Leumi who saved an irreligious person.” And you see it very powerfully at our summer retreats, how everyone spends time together in amazing unity. We are all brothers in times of misfortune.

Rabbi Chollak recalls how, at one of the retreats, a mother from a kibbutz said defiantly, ‘I am irreligious and an extreme Leftist. When I came to the retreat, I was afraid that you’d try to convert me into a baalat teshuvah. Now I see that all you want is that we should enjoy ourselves at the retreat. Excuse me, I just can’t understand – why is it important to you that I should be happy?’

Perhaps Rav Chollak has found the key to kiruv: caring, sensitivity, understanding and a deep desire to give to others.

Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.







Behind the Scenes at Ezer Mizion with its Founder, Chananya Chollak Part 2 of a Three Part Series

March 14, 2018


Rav Chollak - child brocha

Rav Chananya Chollak chuckles when he recalls the modest beginnings of Ezer Mizion in 1979 during his shana rishona.

“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.”

 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, 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.)

Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.



Behind the Scenes at Ezer Mizion with its Founder, Chananya Chollak Part 1 of a Three Part Series

March 7, 2018

pr gen R' Chollak IMG_9149A full night’s sleep is a rare luxury for Rav Chananya Chollak, founder of Ezer Mizion. Those that need him are told that they can call anytime and they do.  It is not unusual for his phone to ring at 3:00 A.M. Rav Chollak hears a panicky voice of a son, whose father is terminally ill and on oxygen. “The tank is almost empty! What should I do?!” Rav Chollak’s soothing, caring voice calms the son. Another tank arrives almost immediately. Rav Chollak does not return to his bed until he is certain that it has come, is set up and the father is doing well.   His phone remains at his bedside, ready for the next opportunity to help another Jew.

Nighttime, Shabbos, Yom Tov…these are not off times for Rav Chollak. Praying  in synagogue Friday night, he feels a tap on his shoulder, not an unusual occurrence. A fellow congregant motions for him to close his   prayerbook and follow him outside. He knew the news was not good. A young father, who had been in an accident together with his wife, had died. The wife was still hospitalized. Someone needs to inform the children, someone who will know just what to say and how to say it. The traumatized wife asked that the message be delivered to her children by Rav Chollak who, with his immense sensitivity, is often called upon to perform this task.

In his work, he has seen what most of us never do. One of his most heartrending stories is of the dying mother who taught her son herself how to say Kaddish (Prayer for the Dead) when the time comes. “G-d, when will it end?” he cries.

It was his own personal experience that led to the founding of Ezer Mizion. A young newly married man, he found himself spending more time in the hospital during his first year of marriage  than with his new (bride. His father-in-law, a relatively young man, had suffered a sudden stroke. It was there that he himself underwent the struggles of caring for a severely ill family member. At the hospital, he was also exposed to other families, one of which was a patient on dialysis who was forced to spend a lot of money from his dwindling savings for ambulances, six trips per week. Young Chananya spoke to a friend who owned a van and convinced him to donate it to the cause. The van was then professionally outfitted as an ambulance, enabling the dialysis patient and so many more like him to be transported free of charge to their clinic appointments.  Thus Ezer Mizion’s Transportation Division, with its fleet of ambulances outfitted for the mobility impaired and the respiratory impaired, was born.

While spending time with his father-in-law in the hospital, he noticed the parents of a small girl with cancer who did not leave her bedside for a moment. “How can they do it?” he thought to himself. “And what about the other kids at home?” he and his wife, LeaH A’H, discussed how they can help. Leah began cooking meals for the family and they recruited friends to take turns relieving the parents so they can spend time with the other children. The immense pots on Leah’s stove gave rise to Ezer Mizion’s Food Division which sends hundreds of thousands of meals to families dealing with serious illness.

To the uninitiated, Rav Chollak is the CEO of Ezer Mizion. To those that know, the countless people that have benefited from his deep compassion, he is the soul of Ezer Mizion. His days and nights are spent in bringing comfort and a feeling of security to frightened Jews whose world has come crashing down, hurtling them into an abyss of despair and terror. To them, small children, teens and mature adults alike, he is the father figure – sensitive, caring, a tower of strength.   (To be continued)

Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.


February 28, 2018

helping hand in darkDid you ever feel so overwhelmed that it was impossible to take one step forward on your own? Most families do not experience such trauma in their lives but some do.  They’re people just like us – the man who sits in the next row in your shul, the woman you were conversing with on that long supermarket line – regular people until suddenly their world caves in and nothing is the same. It is then that, without someone to hold their hand, they and their family will collapse from the unbearable anguish.

The K.’s of Petach Tikvah were such a family.  Mr. K suddenly was stricken with severe psychotic attack and had to be hospitalized. Where, up until recently, there had been an upbeat, involved and caring father, now there was only a shell. The family, who had experienced the attack, was traumatized. It changed their lives.

What to do? How to handle? What to say? What to not say? The family’s social worker at Social Services referred the mother to Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Family Counseling Center. It was only there that she found understanding… people who understood her terror and bewilderment and people who could guide her and help her take that first step, and then another and another. People who would help her and her family begin to function once again.

Compassionate professionals guided her on how to deal with her sick husband and how to explain to the children where their father had gone to and why. They helped her come to grips with the situation until she felt strong enough to cope and manage her home and family under the new reality.

The caring crutch will remain in place with ongoing support groups and awareness programs as long as the family needs it.

Mr. K was eventually released from the hospital.  Now there were new challenges. How to cope in day to day life. So many normal situations that were no longer normal. Ezer Mizion’s Counseling Center was there for her and the children.  And they were there for the practical needs of the family – what are their entitlements? How to access them.

Still shocked and embarrassed, Mr. K remained hiding in his home, fearful of venturing into the community. A trained mentor was assigned to him to help him gradually re-enter the world that had been his. He would begin to daven in shul, mail a letter or shop in the corner grocery. It will be long haul but eventually, the Counseling Center will guide him and help place him in suitable employment.

The little things. The big things. They’re all important, all necessary to function as a normal family. Ezer Mizion’s many divisions are there to smooth out the bumps and now a shattered family can look forward to, once again, being whole with Ezer Mizion by its side.

Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.


The Boeing Corporation Saves Lives

February 21, 2018

David Ivry

Can one even begin to imagine the helplessness of being in a plane thousands of feet in the air when the plane is no longer responding to the control mechanisms? You  – a tiny speck in the vast sky –  and the hitherto dependable controls now no more than bits of disconnected metal and plastic… alone… exposed…powerless. David Ivry, former Israel Ambassador to the United States, the ninth commander of the Israel Air Force and the first director of the Israel’s National Security Council was a man used to being in control. Yet, he tells of his experience in the scenario described above. “It seemed to be all over. Then I remembered I had one chance: the ejection seat. I used it and I was saved.”


Mr. Ivry compares his terrifying experience with the situation of a patient diagnosed with cancer. All the usual forms of treatment have been tried and have failed. There is only one more chance. That is a bone marrow transplant. But it can only be performed if a DNA match can be found. It probably exists somewhere in the world but how does one go about searching among millions of Jews around the globe? And even if it can be done, will a match be found in time? Before the patient’s condition deteriorates and it can no longer be effective? Before it’s too late?

The Boeing Corporation is committed to community responsibility and has invested in many worthwhile charities. Moneys are given each year and, by the end of the year, used up. That is the way of the world. Money is used and no longer exists. “Giving to Ezer Mizion is different,” says David.  “When our financial outlay funds a life-saving transplant, the money isn’t used up. The investment continues to grow. A life is saved. A child will mature. He’ll marry, produce children of his own. Generations. Eternity.”

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The Boeing Donor Pool has saved 8 lives including that of little Ivan.

It was under Mr. Ivry’s leadership as President of Boeing-Israel and Vice-President of Boeing International that Boeing invested in a donor pool in Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry. What is a donor pool? For a sum of $30,000, a pool of 600 potential donors is genetically tested. The information remains on the database for decades and is available when a search request comes in for a desperate cancer patient whose last chance to survive is a transplant. When a transplant takes place using a donor whose testing was funded by the pool, the contact is notified with the electrifying words: You have saved a life! The Boeing Donor Pool has already saved eight lives. When the news arrives, an email is sent out and the Boeing office is buzzing with employees running to one another, “Did you hear? Did you hear?”


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The donor’s genetic testing was funded by the Boeing Donor Pool and saved Ivan’s life.

One such notification to Boeing told of a small boy – only three years old.  A little boy who, like little boys around the world, has plans, perhaps of becoming a fireman or a policeman when he grows up. But this little boy was afflicted with a life threatening autoimmune disease and was being treated in Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.  It never crossed his tiny mind that he may not grow up at all. But his parents knew.  Each time he spoke of the future – when I’m big can I cross the street by myself? – his parents smiled on the outside but cried rivers of tears inside.


David Ivry’s face glows as he tells of this child. The Boeing Donor Pool funded the genetic testing for Oded Zand, a young man in Israel, and it was he that was found to be the perfect genetic match for little Ivan Woloktyok. Because of the generosity of the Boeing team, Ivan will cross the street by himself one day, he’ll learn to ride a two-wheeler and he’ll grow up and become an adult like all little boys should.


Ivan is five now. He’s a healthy, mischievous ball of fire.  He recently was the star of a meeting between his parents, Oded and 2 key Boeing staff members. While the adults embraced with tears of mutual gratitude, Ivan zoomed around the room, not understanding what all the excitement is about. He’s secure, our little Ivan. Secure in the certainty of the future that awaits him. And that’s exactly the way it should be.


Today, Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry numbers 889,956 potential donors, thanks to whom 2,711 lifesaving transplants have taken place to date. One of the Registry administrators’ most substantial challenges is raising funds to finance tissue typing of the collected samples, a procedure that demands major resources.


Dr. Bracha Zisser, Director of the Registry: “On the one hand, the Bone Marrow Registry enables everyone to be a partner in saving lives, and, on the other hand, it acts as insurance policy, increasing the chances for anyone we know to obtain a transplant, should the need arise. Mutual responsibility is the essence and guiding principle of Ezer Mizion. Thank you to the Boeing Corporation, to all the personalized donor pools at Ezer Mizion’s registry and to all our individual contributors for their noble partnership in our efforts to save lives.”

A Holocaust Survivor Reaches Out to Others

February 14, 2018

holocaust - yellow starAs one who went through the nightmare, Tziporah Abramowitz (77) is more capable than anyone else to connect to the depths of the souls of the holocaust survivors in order to to help them with the emotional challenge of coping daily with the horrible memories, which do not leave them alone for a moment. She has become a beloved volunteer at Ezer Mizion’s social club for holocaust survivors. Her encouragement, her compliments, her ability to engage the members and her weekly presentation on the Parsha all serve to bring that elusive smile to the faces of these elderly victims of a horror that defies description.

Tziporah was one of those saved by Raoel Wallenburg. She was hidden, together with hundreds of children, in the cellar of one of the many buildings rented by Mr. Wallenburg. In the 17trh century there had been a terrible fire in London that killed many. When the “Pest’ section of Budapest was built, it was required that from every building, there would be a way to escape to another building. This area was thus blessed with a network of secret underground escape routes of which the Germans were not aware. When the Gestapo would come to one building, the children were quickly smuggled to another. The escape routes also proved invaluable at the end of the war. The Russians has surrounded Budapest for two months but were afraid to enter the city due to street fighting that would end in death as they were threatened by Hitler. When they were informed of the escape network, the problem was solved. They surprised the Germans and took over Budapest.

We were so weak. I couldn’t walk. My older brother asked a Russian soldier for food and he kindly gave us a loaf of bread even though the soldiers didn’t have much themselves. We lived on that bread for a week. I was so sick with ringworm. The skin all over my body was eroded. The doctor said I needed penicillin to live but there was none. Only in the black market. My father had escaped from the camp and joined the partisans. He was caught and was beaten till his teeth were knocked out. Now that the war was over, he laboriously made his way back to our little village. With him, he brought two things: meat and a gun. With those, we could obtain all our needs. Now my father went to the druggist and told him that he must obtain penicillin for me. If he would, he would receive lard from the meat. If he wouldn’t, he’d receive a bullet. The threat frightened the druggist. When my father returned that night, the druggist had obtained a generous supply of penicillin which saved my life.

“Even though we could have gone to America, my father did not want to live in what he called a foreign land,” continues Tziporah.   ‘It took a long time to reach Eretz Yisroel but Eretz Yisroel was home. Right after the war, people had come to my village and were fed by my mother who prepared huge pots for all the starving Yidden. This is how I was brought up. My home was always a place of chessed. Now it is my turn to give.  I am gratified to be a part of Ezer Mizion, an organization that accomplishes so much.”





Father and Son: A Special Moment

February 9, 2018

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Every father knows the feeling of sharing a special moment with his son. With some, it may be a hole in one at the golf course. With others, the first time drive in the new family Lexus.  For the Katz family, their special moment was very special indeed. They each saved a life.

Itamar is 21 and had registered several years ago with Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry. He never expected to actually be called but the call did come and Itamar rose to the occasion. Yes, he was nervous about the procedure but when he thought of what would happen if he refused, it was a no-brainer. “It wasn’t as bad as I envisioned. Somewhat draining but nothing in comparison to what I achieved. I actually saved the life of another Jew!” He was still riding high on the waves of his achievement when another call came on the family phone. “I’m calling from Ezer Mizion. Is Professor Gideon Katz available?” The professor was abroad at the time but things moved fast and contact was made. Back home again, he and his son would glance at each other. No words were necessary. Father and son would be sharing an experience that defies description.


Professor Katz is   head of the State of Israel Studies department at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva.  Gideon had registered with Ezer Mizion ten years ago during a recruitment drive at the university. His name was placed on the database and there he assumed it would remain… just one of the close to a million registrants that make up Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry. A Jewish cancer patient had been told that her only chance to live is a transplant. If a genetic match could be found, she would be cured. If not, … That’s when the Registry database of 885,264 potential donors was searched.  Like a lottery machine, the computer stopped at the file of Professor Katz. Gideon was that DNA match. If he would agree, he could save her life. Not for one moment did he hesitate and so, for the first time in the history of Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry, father and son each merited to save a Jewish life.

Bone marrow transplants are used as therapy for about 100 different illnesses, including leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, diseases of the blood, and enzyme deficiencies. These diseases destroy bone marrow, which contains the stem cells responsible for manufacturing blood cells. For people with diseased or damaged bone marrow, a transplant from a genetically compatible donor is often the only hope for recovery.

Transplant recipients must be nearly identical matches with their donors for tissue-type markers known as HLA proteins. Although close family members offer the best chance of an HLA match, only 30% of patients find matches within their families. Because the number of possible HLA combinations is incredibly vast, the likelihood of two unrelated individuals matching each other is very low. Bone marrow transplant from unrelated yet HLA-matched donors is possible due to the existence of large computerized international registries of potential bone marrow donors.

Chances for a match increase significantly if the patient and potential donor share the same ethnic background. Because Jews in the past lived in isolated communities, they are today more genetically related to each other than to non-Jews. There are over 10 million potential donors registered in the International Bone Marrow Registry (BMDW) based in Holland, but only a very small percentage are of Jewish descent.

Ezer Mizion established its registry in 1998 to increase the pool of Jewish potential donors. Israel, home to an entire spectrum of Jewish communities and ethnic backgrounds, is the natural location for a Jewish bone marrow registry.

Today, the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Donor Registry is the largest Jewish registry in the world. Because Jewish patients generally require Jewish bone marrow donors, the registry is a vital resource for thousands of sick Jews and serves an insurance policy for worldwide Jewry.


Strangers or perhaps…

December 27, 2017

people helping people around globeImagine having an airplane view of the entire world. Not only the world but of generations. What would you see? You’d immediately notice the hubbub in America as Ezer Mizion launches a nationwide campaign to raise funds to sponsor genetic testing for thousands of new potential donors to register at its Bone Marrow Registry. The money pours in. You all give so generously.  The funds are transferred to Israel to pay for the cost of the testing. The genetic data of these young men and women is entered to remain on the database for decades.

Now your eyes flit to the right and you see sadness. Such sadness. Jonathan, a young father in South Africa has just been diagnosed. His children are not even grown yet. There are weddings to dance at. Grandchildren to read stories to. Up until now all this has been taken for granted. But no longer. They will happen but he might not be there. The doctors have tried many treatments. There only remains a bone marrow transplant which cannot take place until a DNA match is found. Right now the procedure can be successful. Later may be too late. His siblings are not a match. Will a match be found among strangers?

There’s a loud buzz. You glance to the left. In Israel, a search is being conducted at Ezer Mizion’s Jewish Bone Marrow Registry.  Emergency. A genetic match is needed for a young father in South Africa. Tension. All eyes are focused on the computer. Then smiles. Excitement. Joy.   Liron, one of the new registrants, is a perfect match.

The news is quickly relayed. The joy spreads across the ocean. Jonathan and his family dance. Once again, happiness reigns in this young home.

And they question.  His siblings were not a genetic match but a perfect stranger is? Is she perhaps not a stranger after all?

From your view above the skies, your eyes travel back…back…back. You see Jonathan’s grandparents living in Latvia, in Lithuania. They have large families. Their children marry and raise their own families.

You spot a young woman in France dissolved in tears. She is Liron’s grandmother. The child she has carried for nine months has died. Or so they tell her. She strongly suspects that the hospital staff is lying. But she is helpless. Was the child alive? Did he grow up and marry a girl whose family originated from Eastern Europe? So many questions. The answers lie hidden in the mysteries of time…

And so Liron, a perfect stranger in Israel – or maybe not such a perfect stranger after all – saved the life of Jonathan in South Africa. It’s twenty months later. His blood counts are perfect and have been since the transplant. He’s planning a vacation in Israel together with his family this Pesach. The highlight will be meeting Liron. The two will talk. They’ll share family history. Perhaps more light will be shed on the mystery then. If so, we will certainly share it with you, dear reader.

But most important, Jonathan’s life has been saved. Liron couldn’t be happier. It is her blood that is flowing through his veins. Perhaps they were strangers before but now they are strangers no longer.


Just an Email Address

December 20, 2017

drowningShe’s drowning in the ocean of aloneness, barely able to tread water. She spots a twig – perhaps it will help keep her afloat – and bravely swims toward it. She tries to touch it, only to find that it is attached to a branch, which is attached to a tree trunk which is solidly based in the ground. The branch is compassionate and bends over so that she can grab hold. It wraps itself around her and pulls her to safety. No longer is she alone.

It was just an email address. Tova spotted it in an ad. She knew Ezer Mizion helped people who have cancer and the like. She wasn’t sick but she was desperate. She had long ago given up hope. But her innocent children…the mother in her urged her to try.    It was a shot in the dark .

I am a mother  alone with seven children.

I wanted to know if you have any services that can help me. ty.


When the email appeared in Hadassah’s queue, she read so much more than the two lines it contained. And she responded. With compassion. With respect. And with answers.

Hi Tova.

Thank you for reaching out. That was courageous of you.

Where are you located? We might be able to assist with mentoring for your children and other help, depending on different factors. You would need to speak to Ezer Mizion’s Social Services Department staff directly see what services are available in your area.

Wishing you all the best,



Courageous? Someone thinks I am courageous? Tova sat up a bit straighter. She felt brave enough to tell her story.



I am located in Bat Melech Women’s Shelter in Beit Shemesh. I have 2 babies, 7 kids in all.  I will attach a picture of my famiily.

Things have been hard. My husband is mentally ill. I suffered head trauma and so did my son from the abuse when he would bang our heads on walls and floors. My husband took all of the furniture from my house. I am left with nothing. I will soon be divorced. I am a giyores with no family support. I have no profession. I don’t know how you can help but you seem kind. Is there anything at all you can do?





Hadassah knows that her words have power to build and imbues each syllable with gentle concern. She is careful to instill hope without making any definitive promises which may not be able to be met.

What a beautiful family KAH! I hope that you find the help and support that you need…

 I have written to Penina, the Director of the Social Services of Ezer Mizion, asking for her input.

 I will get back to you and will put you in direct contact with her .

 I wish you the greatest siyata dishmaya (heavenly assistance) in your journey, with nachat from your children and abundant light and joy in your life.

 Thank you again for your courage and for reaching out,


Tova feels strengthened and shyly expresses her dreams.

Thank you. My children are truly a bracha. They give me something to live for.

Being that I need a job-I’ll just throw this idea out to you. My dream is to be a nurse. But, of course, I can’t afford the schooling. Perhaps you need doulas that can go to hospitals and help ladies that are giving birth. I can take a quick course to learn. Tova


Penina was in touch with Tova that day. (She knows how hard it is to wait.) She began the process of arranging a course of study for Tova so that her dream can become reality. In addition, she will help Tova access her entitlements for government stipends and funding from other sources. Tova will soon be self-supporting but will still need help in other areas so that she will be able to function well as a parent and the family dynamics will be healthy ones. Ezer Mizion Advocacy Unit will ensure Emotional Therapy and Parental Guidance and help place the children in schools most appropriate for them. Household help for a limited time until she gets on her feet will also be part of the package.  Ezer Mizion Food Distribution will provide Yom Tov baskets and grocery vouchers adding that special spice that says ‘We care!’ to each holiday. Additionally, Ezer Mizion will help her get on the lists of other organizations who will provide new clothing and shoes at lowered or no cost.


A hesitant email timidly sent through cyberspace fueled by a glimmer of hope. A connection is made and Tova becomes part of the Ezer Mizion family. No longer alone. No longer despondent. A Jewish family is rescued from a horrendous nightmare and given the means to function.


Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.


For further info:      5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219      718 853 8400

When Life Explodes and Catapults You into the World of Hospitals

December 13, 2017

pr hospitalLife proceeds normally. Tuesday is similar to Monday and Wednesday follows in its wake. Then suddenly, without any warning, life explodes. A fifteen-year-old is crossing the street, something he has been doing since he was a youngster under the watchful eyes of his nervous mother. Now at fifteen, his mother no longer worried about his crossing. She knew he was careful and responsible. What she didn’t know about was the van that came hurtling down the street, against the light, hitting her son with full force causing his head to strike the asphalt until he lost consciousness. And life was no longer normal. The tiny hospital room becomes your world. Nothing else matters.

The worries were endless. Would he survive? Would he be permanently brain injured? Clutching a t’hillim (Psalm book) and begging Hashem(G-d) to have mercy, his parents didn’t leave his side.  One left. The other arrived. Day after endless day. Nothing else was real. Only teh beeping monitors at their son’s hospital bedside.  The eight children at home were hardly on their radar screen.  The parents were barely aware that Shimmy* had a test scheduled next week and needed help studying, that Mimi* was having a hard time taking Mommy’s place and her terrified younger siblings were acting wild and not listening to her. Her parents hardly knew but Ezer Mizion did. Volunteers were dispatched from many rosters- some to provide hot, nourishing meals for the parents at the hospital, some to provide those same meals for the rest of the family at home, some to handle those hectic evening hours, some to do homework with the kids. The parents did not own a car. Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life  division was contacted regarding rides to and from the hospital for them.

Ride to hospital needed for cancer patient. Who is available?

Who is Linked to Life? Just people. People like you and me. Mostly middle-class working people who have joined this famed WhatsApp group. Their phone beeps and they quickly check the request. Can they fit it into their day? In most cases, someone responds. It may be driving a patient or a family member to the hospital. Or delivering vital medical equipment or medication. Or perhaps providing something to lift the spirits of a family undergoing a crisis. Over 3,000 such trips are made every month. Each group, divided by areas, becomes a family. Lets take a peek at an pre-Shabbat posting:

  • A special thanks goes to our dedicated directors for navigating assignments right through summer vacation… It certainly is not something to be taken for granted!
  • A heartfelt mazel-tov to group member Dovi Baladi on the birth of his first grandson, and to Mrs. Shosh Shiloh on the birth of a granddaughter. Wishing everyone only nachas and simchost across the board, from our loving hearts (Hey ­– any chance of a shidduch?:)
  • This week, a huge fleet of buses and ambulances drove the humongous day camp for kids with special needs (a total of 900 people!) ­­. A giant thank-you to group members, directors Malkiel Beriga and Moshe Traube, who didn’t stop working for a minute…
  • Welcome to Daniel Malka, director of the group in Maalot in the North, and best wishes for much, much success.
  • Around the world: Special thanks to Menachem Bromer, our man in Strassbourg, France, for his quick and dedicated assistance to an Israeli tourist who fell in Nice.
  • A giant thank you to Shlomo Miller, Los Angeles, for coming forward wholeheartedly to help a disabled cancer patient who came on a visit from Israel. Notice the speed at which medical documents were transferred from Israel to the Ukraine.
  • Words cannot express our thanks to Yisrael Spritzer, director of the Jersualem branch, and to the entire Jerusalem staff, for dealing last week with getting a disk to Ben Gurion airport, in an impossible race against time. It couldn’t have happened without you!!!
  • How do you organize Shabbos for 10 people in 10 minutes? Only in Rechasim do they know the answer.
  • Good Shabbos to all!


It’s over now. The teenage boy, Baruch Hashem (thank G-d), has recovered with no long-term effects of the accident. No more rides to and from the hospital are needed. It is only now, when the terror has receded, that the parents are able to appreciate the fact that punching in a few buttons brought them a ride each time it was needed with strangers becoming like family and opening their hearts to another’s needs. Things are back to normal but the parents are amazed at how their home had functioned so well in their absence. With its vast range of divisions, Ezer Mizion made it all happen!

Live in US, Canada, SA, Europe…anywhere in the globe and like to join Linked to Life? SMS 011 972 52 580 8936.