Archive for the ‘Charities in Israel’ Category

Opportunity Knocked and They Answered

August 1, 2018

DNA 3

Mike E. was three and a half. The age of zoom-zooming his trucks across the floor. But Mike wasn’t zoom-zooming. The most frequent sound he emitted was a pitiful whimper as, once again, he was subjected to the painful and frightening hospital procedures. Mike was born with CGD, a disease that damages the immune system. His life was in danger and only a stem cell transplant could help. Finding a donor whose DNA matched Mike’s was vital. With a matching donor, he could live. Without…

Mike was one of the fortunate ones. From approximately 900,000 potential donors at Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry, Nimrod C. was that match. Mike is 5 and a half now and zoom-zooming with the best of them. Recently he and his mother, Anastasia, met Nimrod for the first time. Busy with his trucks, Mike couldn’t understand why his mother burst into tears as Nimrod entered the room. Both adults stood there in silence as the tears of joy flowed. “Because of you…because of you…” Anastasia cried out.

In recent times, a bone marrow transplant is not used too frequently. The most common procedure is a stem cell transplant, a much simpler procedure. There is no surgery involved for the donor, no pain, no recovery period. The stem cell transplant is not much more complicated than giving blood. Sometimes, however, due to the patient’s condition, a bone marrow transplant is necessary.

Mali Chen (21) was diagnosed at age three with a serious and rare blood disease called thalassemia major, a condition that impedes blood cell production. Throughout her childhood and adolescence, Mali required regular blood transfusions in order to survive, but, as a result of the frequent transfusions, she sustained serious medical damage. “They found that I had a surplus of iron in the body, which got worse and worse until it endangered my life. Ezer Mizion was contacted in the hopes that, being the largest Jewish registry, it would have a match for me.”

A match was indeed found. Omri ben Yakir was told that a young woman was in need of a transplant to save her life but, due to her condition, a stem cell transplant would not be an option. It was necessary to perform a bone marrow transplant which would require painful surgery to extract the marrow from his spine with a certain degree of risk. As his name indicates, Omri was indeed a ‘precious’ human being. “My family was a bit nervous but there was no question in my mind that I would do it. It was a somewhat painful and took awhile to recover,” he admits.  “It was only after the meeting that I really understood the significance of what I’d done. Suddenly everything that had happened had a ‘face.’ In spite of the difficulty, I have absolutely no regrets about what I did. When I see her, I understand that it was all worth it. If they’d call me, I’d happily donate again.”

Omri and Mali had been students in schools near each other but had not known each other. When they met, Mali was rendered speechless. “What words are there in the dictionary to thank someone for saving your life?!”

 

 

 

Advertisements

CP Can’t Stop Me!

July 25, 2018

Menachem Weiss, a “special” teen, reports on an angle of life that he alone can talk about

Shalom dear readers!

Remember me? I’m the one with CP – the one who doesn’t let the CP stop me from having fun. Well, not always but I try. There are a lot of things I can’t do in a wheelchair but Ezer Mizion has taught me that there are a lot of things I can do. And I try to take advantage of every one.

For the past few years I have not attended the Ezer Mizion retreat because I had an opportunity to be taken to Switzerland instead. I always had a blast at the retreats but, after all, Switzerland…This year, Switzerland is not going to work out but I wasn’t shy at all to call Ezer Mizion. It’s like a family and I knew I’d get a big welcome back.

Like always, I was worried who my counselor will be. Having the right person is so important. I need help with everything. And besides, no counselor can help me if he can’t understand me. My speech is not so great.  Well, great news! My cousin, Motty, will be one of the counselors and I’m going to ask that he be assigned to me. We get along great.  He understands me when I try to talk and he knows just what I need and how to manage everything. . So, I already registered and made up with my friend, Gavriel, that we’d be in the same session and in the same room. I hope everything will work out for the best and we’ll enjoy ourselves as we did in the past.

I’m really looking forward to it. I remember one year, we went to the ocean. I had never seen the ocean, never in my life, and the counselor was able to get the wheelchair all the way up to the waves. I could feel them! Wow! That was really something. One year we had a magician as entertainment who did some really cute tricks.  One of the days began with a performance about a king who searched for happiness. It gave us a lot of food for thought in a fun way. After lunch, we went out and there, outside, was an authentic Bedouin encampment. They even brought a real camel and walked him around all the time. They gave out drums and big darboukas and we tapped along energetically, together with the Bedouins. Leave it up to Ezer Mizion. What will they think of next?!  We also had a band and I danced, sort of. It was fantastic! We ended the day with slow songs, songs of yearning and prayer.

I had a fantastic counselor that year, Yehoshua, who looked after me with all his heart and never forgot to give me occasional chocolates so I would have a sweet, happy time.

I always start off with fears about any new counselor – whether he’ll understand me and know how to help me –  all kinds of nonsense and in the end, every counselor is great and I forget about it all and enjoy myself. But what can I do – I can’t overcome my worrywart habit. But this year, I’ll probably have Motty so I can skip my usual nervous session. I’ll let you know how it all works out.

Until next time,

Menachem Weiss

 

Flying High

July 18, 2018

pr L2L sick children on plane tour of Israel- coord by L2LCancer is hard. A child whose worst complaint should be ‘too much homework’ is suddenly confronted with what no child should ever know.   He finds himself in strange surroundings with his body doing strange things. He hears whispered fragments of his parents’ conversations. He witnesses children who shared the chemo experience with him suddenly disappearing and no one wants to tell him where they went.  He’s scared. Confused. Anxious about the future. Will he have a future? He tries to block such thoughts but late at night, in the dark, they come creeping out of their hiding places.

And his siblings do not have it much better. A bedtime talk with Mommy when the hidden questions can safely be asked is a thing of the past. Mommy is always at the hospital or talking nervously to doctors on the phone. Suppers arrive from strangers. No one is home to help with homework. And worst of all is the terror – that dark shadow that permeates every corner of their home.

And the parents? They’re consumed with worry and fear. They’re torn between the sick child and the other kids. Their personal needs do not even enter their radar screen.  Routine? There hasn’t been any in months. They’re adults but like they small children, they long for someone to take their hand. Someone to give their children what they are not capable of giving.  Someone to take charge of what used to be a smoothly-running home. Even someone to provide their kids with extras… to bring back that smile that has been missing from their faces for months.

One by one, Ezer Mizion adds to its roster of services for families dealing with cancer. There’s hot meals for whoever is staying at the hospital with the patient. Rides to and from the hospital both for the patient and family members. Someone is assigned to do homework with the kids every night. Someone takes care of laundry. Cleaning help is brought in. Lovely apartments are provided near the hospital to avoid traveling thrice weekly for chemo. The sick child and his siblings join therapeutic activities at Ezer Mizion Guest Home for Families with Cancer. Sand therapy… music therapy… animal therapy… and yes, those special times – the smile times – come frequently also. A birthday party, a holiday event, a jeeping trip and the exhilarating days of a dream come true. Those are the days that energize the spirit, enabling it to strengthen the body in its battle for life.

A group of children needed a pick-me-up. They didn’t dare to ask but a ‘little birdie’ made it known to Ezer Mizion that an airplane tour of Israel would be the ultimate in fun for them. Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life, a WhatsApp group, was contacted. One by one, the challenges were met by the Linked to Life network and their ‘heavenly’ day took place.

Over and over again, Ezer Mizion receives letters using the same phrase: We never could have made it through that terrible time without you! And who is Ezer Mizion? Ezer Mizion is you and me! All the professionals, the 25,000 volunteers and those caring people around the globe that contribute so generously.

 

 

 

The “X” Days

July 11, 2018

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.

Not to be able to relax for a moment. To be constantly dealing with the possibility of uncontrolled anger. To be unable to plan for even the next hour. To ache for your other children who ask nothing more than to be able to play a game in peace or perhaps read a few pages of a favorite book. To feel helpless, hopeless.

 Dear Ezer Mizion,

My wife and I have a special needs son, he is 14 years old and suffers from VEOS (very early onset schizophrenia) which manifests itself as SZ and PDD and ADHD.

He is, of course, being medicated and he dorms and schools in XXXXXX.

This year we await the long holidays with trepidation, 8 out of 9 weeks our son Yehuda is going to be home, through the long summer vacation and Holiday periods of Tishrei. (See attached calendar.) Without a suitable structure and framework we fear that we will not be able to entertain and provide for our son’s needs and those of the rest of the family.
If you have any program that may be suitable for our son, please inform us at your earliest convenience and direct me to the correct person to speak to.

Gratefully yours,

It is this need that Ezer Mizion seeks to address with its myriad of summer camp programs geared for varied requirements, its respite programs and its afternoon activity clubs. The programs help to alleviate pressure of physical demands and emotional strain experienced both by parents of a special needs child and his siblings. These beleaguered parents never stop expressing their gratitude.

My son is a 28-year-old boy with special needs. He partakes of many of Ezer Mizion’s programs including its summer camp and its simchas beis hash’oeva. These two events are literally his oxygen supply.

When he walks through the streets of Jerusalem, young men stop him, smile and greet him warmly. They remember him from the “Retreat.” Therefore, there is no way in the world that we could have passed this up and not registered him. Just as a person can’t go without oxygen, so, it simply was not possible for him not to attend the Ezer Mizion camp. And now that he has been accepted and his registration sponsored, I, too, can let the worry melt away from my heart, breathe a sigh of relief, and say with joy filling my heart –Thank You!

The View from Both Ends

July 4, 2018

helping handssIt 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  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. I’ve given rides to many people. Sometimes it’s a young mother counting the seconds until she can be back at the bedside of her baby who is fighting for his life at the hospital. She had planned to go by bus – even though she is beyond exhausted – until someone mentioned that she should try calling Linked to Life. In a few minutes, I appear at her doorstep, ready to give her door-to-door service. The utter joy on her face is the ‘gas’ that keeps me going even though, shortly before the request call came in, I was ready to fall into bed myself. Then there was the time I answered a call to pick up a vital blood sample from the airport and bring it to a doctor. “I’ve got a ten-year-old child waiting at the hospital. This little tube of blood can save her life,” the doctor thanked me. I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you that those words made me feel seven feet tall.

 

But now I want to tell you about another ride to Tel HaShomer Hospital. This time I wasn’t the driver. This time I was the drivee.  A family member was ill and all of us rallied to take shifts. But normal responsibilities did not disappear. A full workday remained. Homework with kids etc. You all know the routine. And on top of it all, the trip to the hospital via a couple of buses. Suddenly a precious Ezer Mizion volunteer appears. For him, too, it is the end/beginning/middle of a work day, but, with a big smile, he takes you to the hospital and back. Just like I never fully realized what I was doing, he cannot even imagine what a huge chessed he is doing with this “simple” ride.

I greet my relative and take care of his needs until he is ready for a nap. Then I wander around the hospital ward and notice a mother looking very frightened. When I ask her how I can help out, she explains that there is a special medication that she’d left at home. Quickly, I ‘flip to my other hat’. I send a message to the Linked to Life coordinator: Who can deliver a medicine from Bnei Brak to the hospital? Almost instantly, someone responds to fill her need.

The happiness, the emotion, and the blessings that burst forth from that mother’s heart the moment the medicine arrived!

I meet here the wonderful Ezer Mizion volunteers who come to give out coffee, cake, and hot food to family members during the long, hard waiting time. When I ask them how they got here and how they are getting home, they answer proudly – “With the Linked to Life volunteers.”

Dear fellow Linked to Life members, you are an important and critical part of this remarkable chessed chain of Ezer Mizion.   At moments like these, I am prouder than ever to be a member of this holy group. In the hope and prayer that all of us should always be on the giving end – only.

Want to join Linked to Life? No matter where on the planet you live, you will be welcomed.

SMS 011 972 52 580 8936

 

Nightmare: the Common Denominator

June 27, 2018

pr special sunIt’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. (more…)

Caring for the Caretaker

June 20, 2018

Lottie ChalomMany years ago there had been a place called Lottie’s kitchen. It was a small kitchen in a home teeming with good deeds. Lottie, a culinary expert, produced trays and trays of goodies which were largely consumed by her many friends. They would gravitate to this island of warmth and compassion to discuss their personal woes with a woman who seemed to have never-ending patience.

 

Lottie and her husband and partner in good deeds, Chaim, have since passed on. Their four daughters deemed it appropriate to found Lottie’s Kitchen in Israel under the auspices of Ezer Mizion. It is there that nutritious, attractive meals are produced, packed and delivered to family members sitting at the bedside of a hospitalized loved one. Women of all ages volunteer– from teens to the sprightly 85-year-old golden-ager who makes her way to Lottie’s Kitchen with a walker. She had been a chef in her younger years. Her day at Lottie’s Kitchen enables her to make use of her skills and offer advice to the younger set.  For the elderly, it is a two-way good deed as it enables them to have structure to their day and meet with similarly minded women as they work.

lk del ok to uselk del ok to use w recipient

Israel hospitals do not provide more than basic medical care for its patients.  The nursing staff is unable to take the time for the little extras that can make all the difference to a patient’s spirit. A family member therefore, tries to be there for as much as possible of the 24-hour day. Running from work responsibilities to home responsibilities and then making a mad dash to take over a shift at the hospital does not leave the caretaker much time or emotional space to even think of her own needs. A coke and a bag of chips from the vending machine will often be her only fare for weeks. Distraught, tense, worn out, a mother will sit with her six year old, trying to distract him from the constant question of “Mommy, when will G-d make the leukemia go away?”

 

And then, like a angel, there enters a Lottie’s Kitchen volunteer with a steaming hot, delicious meal. She’ll offer her a chance to talk, to share her story, to ask advice. Mommy can’t believe it. Someone is caring for the caretaker!

 

Orders are filled – some of them very specific. Any meals left over at the end of the day will be given to the dialysis patients who find it so difficult to go back to normal routine just hours after treatment.

lk ok to use IMG-20160616-WA0071

 

Nechama, the head cook, considers herself just a small cog in the wheel of good deeds. But those at Lottie’s Kitchen know that it is she that creates the ambience of giving, of loving. More and more.  The Lottie’s Kitchen Family was treated to a trip to pray at the holy places in Israel. Nechama would have loved to join but she realized she would have to cut corners in her cooking. To give ‘her’ people anything less than perfection was unthinkable. So she opted out, citing a quote from the Chofetz Chaim’s works, Ahavas Chessed, that doing good deeds is an especially opportune time to pray. ”I won’t lose out at all,” she assured her friends as they boarded the bus.

 

Lottie’s Kitchen, one of the many divisions of Ezer Mizion, an empire of chessed.

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.

 

 

 

Together? Nothing Is Impossible!

June 15, 2018

Alone it was impossible but together…together nothing is impossible.

ticketEzer Mizion’s Linked to Life, a WhatsApp group with many branches and hundreds in each branch, has proven this time and time again. One person needs. Another has an idea. A third has the means to make some headway and a fourth can complete it. Like the tickets story.

A twenty year old disabled woman underwent difficult surgery with a lengthy rehab. Life hasn’t been easy for her. She needed a pick-me-up. She dreamed of attending a major event being held in a few days. But attendance needed tickets and tickets were impossible to obtain.

Did I say impossible? Under normal circumstances, it could never happen. But when we all work together, even the impossible becomes a reality. And so Rivi, the Yerushalayim Linked to Life coordinator, put out a request:

Rivi: I know tickets are reserved for VIP’s and sold out long ago. Can anything be done or is this just a pipe dream?

Yossie: “How many tickets are needed?”

Rivi: “Two. For the girl and her father”

Chaya: “It’ll be easier to get tickets for the general rehearsal; there are two, one today and one tomorrow”

Rivi: “I already checked. No tickets left for general rehearsal.”

David: “Who’s in charge of the event that I can speak to?”

Several more postings…

What was that about impossible? Thirteen minutes after the initial post went up, Rivi posted: “Thanks everyone. We have two tickets.”

And sometimes it’s geography that makes something impossible.

AirplaneA patient in Israel urgently needs a stem cell transplant. His life is at stake and he cannot wait. A good possibility for a genetic match exists. A blood sample must be tested asap. But the donor lives in Argentina. Phones beeped and the wheels began to turn. It was not long until a small vial of blood was on a plane flying from Argentina to Israel. Now it was time for the next posting.

At 10:03 p.m., a post went live: “Urgent! We need someone who can receive a stem cell donor’s blood sample arriving from Argentina at 2:30 a.m. and deliver it from the airport to Elad. Anyone up at this hour who can do it?”

At 10:04 p.m. (!), the response came: “I’m landing at 2:40 a.m. and going to Elad.”

Exquisite timing. Incredible siyata di’Shemaya. When Yidden work to

Giving Again and Again and Again

June 6, 2018

chocolates.jpgWhen a person wakes up each day with the thought of how can I make things better for someone else, then answers seem to abound. Rabbi Chananya Chollak, founder of Ezer Mizion, is such a person. The most recent idea has been collaboration with Chasdei Naomi to brighten the lives of hundreds of holocaust survivors on the Yom Tov of Shavuot. These very special heroes often live on a fixed income. Their food expenditures are perforce minimal and only the lower cost items enter their kitchens.  Chasdei Naomi’s ongoing food distribution is intended to help the needy survive. Luxury items are not included. This year, Ezer Mizion collaborated with Chasdei Naomi to enable these holocaust survivors to enjoy the higher priced dairy items in honor of Shavuot. Pastries, chocolates, fruit yogurts were included in the packages. Tears filled the eyes of each of the organizers as the profuse thanks poured out from the recipients for items that may grace the shelves of an average refrigerator during the week but were completely out of reach for these venerated golden-agers even for Yom Tov.

pr golden 2 14 yom tzilulim DSCF1200Rabbi Chollak’s attitude filters down to each member of the professional staff and even to the over twenty-five hundred volunteers. These volunteers take time from their personal lives to help out those suffering from illness and other crises. Some become mentors to children who have hardly seen their parents in months due to serious illness. They take them shopping for school supplies, do homework with them and even take them on an occasional fun trip. Others volunteer to pack food for those spending hours at the bedside of an ill parent or child…or deliver food packages…or drive them to the hospital…or put together a Bar Mitzvah for a child whose parents have no time or emotional space left what with caring for his cancer-stricken sibling…or pick up vital medication from the airport or…the list goes on and on. These volunteers give many hours with no remuneration other than then satisfaction of helping  another Jew. And so each year, on erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan (the day before the month of Sivan begins- a day specifically suitable for prayer), Ezer Mizion shows its appreciation by undertaking a major trip to holy sites for these volunteers. This year they visited the gravesites of the Shelah Hakadosh, Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and poured out their heartfelt prayers.

lk del ok to use w recipientAfter a long round of fervent tefillot (prayer), the busloads of women were brought to Haifa’s Municipal Sports Center for a special dinner in appreciation of their dedication. A talk was delivered by Rabbanit Menucha Levi who related how her father, Hagaon Rav Shimshon Pincus zt”l once told a mother whose baby cried a lot that “When a Jewish child cries, the Shechinah (G-d) cries with him.” She continued: “The Ezer Mizion volunteers, who help Hashem’s crying children, allay the tears of the Shechinah (G-d)”lk del ok to use

International Chairman Rabbi Chananya Chollak shlita gave his warm blessings to the volunteers. He said that when he’d gone to Maran Hagaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita to request a special berachah (blessing) for the Day of Prayer Rav Chaim gave his blessing and also asked that the women have him in mind in their prayers. Rabbi Chollak also mentioned that when he once went to Maran Hagaon Rav A.L. Shteinman zatzal, Rav Shteinman asked pleadingly if his efforts for the organization entitled him to have a part in Ezer Mizion, since with what else could he come before the Heavenly Tribunal?

Each volunteer came away feeling valued, knowing that even the g’dolim  (leaders) hold the work of Ezer Mizion in esteem.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

When Mommy Becomes a Child

May 30, 2018

Question Mark In Maze Shows ConfusionIt’s frightening. You feel helpless. Your mother who took care of you as a child has become a child herself. And it is you who must care for her now. Not just physical care. That would be difficult but still easier to handle. Now she needs you to guide her, to explain things like she did for you when you were small. To tell her again and again and again what she seemed to know yesterday. To guard her from danger – from a hot stove, from busy streets. And like a small child, she doesn’t want to be guided. She may lash out in fury. Not unlike you did at age four. But unlike a small child, she is not gradually maturing. It gets worse each day.

How do you switch roles, relinquishing your place as a child and becoming a mommy to the one who represented ‘mommyhood’ to you all these years?

And what do you tell your children who used to love it when Grandma visits and now are confused and terrified?

Handling your dual roles is tortuous. You ache for someone to be there for you – to explain, to support, to empower. There are thousands like you and that is why, after intensive advance work and collaboration with local municipal Social Service Departments, the Shaked Center, and the National Insurance Institute, Ezer Mizion Tzipporah Fried Alzheimer Family Support center hosted a gathering for care-giving family members on the subject of “Dementia.” An overflow crowd of hundreds of caregivers and family members attended!

The gathering opened with a presentation of the various services available in Israel that provide for the needs of care-giving family members.

Next, Dr. Yael Zilbershlag, occupational therapist and gerontologist, delivered a fascinating lecture on the topic of “Memory and Forgetfulness and What Lies between Them.” The audience was extremely focused and asked many questions.

Following the lecture, there was a “Playback Theater” that modeled coping situations for effectively dealing with dementia patients’ challenging behaviors. Witnessing scenes that had been happening in their own homes behind closed doors, scenes that they had been embarrassed to discuss with anyone, enabled the caregivers to realize that the incomprehensible behavior was not Mommy but the disease. The many coping techniques empowered them to handle previously tortuous situations. Leaving the event, they felt galvanized and eager to put all that they had learned into practice.

This event was an important and exciting opportunity for Ezer Mizion to provide an additional response to care-giving relatives who cope with their loved one’s dementia with unflagging devotion and courage.

A special thank you to Aviva Schwartz, Tzipporah Fried Center social worker at Ezer Mizion’s Bat Yam-Holon-Rishon Lezion branch who contributed much to the evening’s success with her dedication and professionalism.