What Would You Have Done?

July 17, 2017

pr special sunWhat would you do? What would you do if a fellow Jew stood there in tears begging you for help? If her situation was so difficult that you knew you yourself couldn’t handle it? If your heart ached to offer at least some relief? What would you do? Wouldn’t you say yes? Of course, you would! We’re Jews. Known for our compassion. And so that’s what we did. We said yes. We said yes to the mother of a special needs child who had already used up her allotted respite hours and called the office about Ezer Mizion’s Summer Camp for Children with Special Needs. The father had passed away a few months ago. The mother was left alone to care for the family including a difficult special child. She knew she had no more respite hours left and would have to pay for the service.  She began giving over her credit card info but before she reached the last digit, her voice choked up into sobs and she could not continue.  The camp was essential for this most difficult child. And no less essential was the break it afforded the whole family who would be able to enjoy the healing time of togetherness without the continual, relentless turmoil created by a child who was incapable of joining the family

unit.

The Real Thing
CP young man experiencing the ocean for the first time in his life

Camp was crucial but so was food for her family. Basic food. Credit cards have to be paid at the end of the month and there was hardly any money. The heart-rending tears flowed and so we said yes. Yes, we will accept her child at no cost. Wouldn’t you have done the same?

 

And we said yes to the family that has not one but two special needs children. As if that is not enough, another family member suffers from severe emotional disturbances. She, too, had no allotted hours remaining but could we say no?

 

We said yes because we were confident that you, our friends and supporters, would do the same and your generous donations would cover the cost.

 

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Jeeping trip for cancer patients and their families

Every year, Ezer Mizion’s Summer Camps include camps for Special Needs Children, camps for Cancer Patients and their Families enabling the whole family to enjoy a rejuvenating vacation from cancer in a fun atmosphere geared for their needs and, beginning this year, camps for the Mentally Challenged and their Families.

 

Some excerpts from one of the many thank you letters received:

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High functioning special kids visiting the kosel

Survival mode. That’s the only way to describe it. When my daughter was out of the house, we lived normally. When she was home, it was all about getting from one minute to the next with the house, her siblings and my sanity usually less than more intact. Pandemonium reigned. Every day. My children hardly knew what it was like to live in a normal home. Invite friends over to study for a test? Absurd. Have a quiet talk with a child? There was no quiet. We had no end to look forward to in the foreseeable future. My eight year old dreamed of getting married and living in a calm house. Ezer Mizion came through over and over again with a variety of support, then with the biggest surprise of all – a summer camp geared just for kids like her. My children couldn’t believe it when I suggested a trip to the zoo during vacation.  Such a simple pastime but so out of reach with a special child at home. Ezer Mizion, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. May you all be blessed.

 

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:   http://www.ezermizion.org            5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219             718 853 8400

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The Other End of the World?

July 12, 2017

people helping people around globe“But he’s at the other end of the world!”

“No problem,” said the experienced Ezer Mizion staff member. “Just watch.”

Here’s the story. A woman with cancer was in need of a bone marrow transplant to save her life. She needed it asap. Now! Not in a few months. Eldad had been identified by the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry as a genetic match but further testing was needed. Simple. A few tubes of blood and the test will be done. But what if the potential donor is happily vacationing in Cancun, Mexico? Do we wait till he returns? And take a chance on the patient’s condition changing for the worse? Do we take a chance on another person’s life?!

The Registry staff member contacted another Ezer Mizion division, Linked to Life which operates a What’s App program around the globe. Lights flashed. Cell phones buzzed. A Linked to Life member responded that he is in Cancun and planning to travel for New York that day. The blood was drawn by a local lab and transported to NY by the L2L member. Now, Ronit , office manager for the CEO of El Al in New York and another Linked to Life volunteer, came on the scene. Ronit contacted Yoram, director of El Al representatives in the U.S. Yoram got the head of the station at Kennedy Airport, and security officer Tal involved in the operation. On Thursday, after receiving the test tubes from Mexico via the first L2L volunteer, El Al representatives in N.Y. traveled to Israel and handed over the precious test tubes to Ezer Mizion.

The other side of the world? No problem when good-hearted Jews around the globe are linked together.

Based in Israel, L2L receives hundreds of calls daily. Come join us at the dispatch center. A call just came in. A grandmother, accompanied by her daughter, needs ride to the clinic.  The volunteer that responded later contacted the Ezer Mizion office to say thank you “These are real mentschen. They didn’t stop apologizing for taking my time. They were so grateful. .The grandmother is past the age of 90. At the time of the Holocaust, she was 17 years old. She had been through Auschwitz, work camps and Bergen-Belsen. She told me about her mother and little sister who were murdered in Auschwitz. ‘When I close my eyes, I don’t ‘just remember’ things; I literally see them happening.’ This tiny lady didn’t give up. She went on to establish a family which now consists of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and continues to give and give. “I broke my arm recently and for a period, I couldn’t bake cakes for my grandchildren’s families. It made me sad but I’m back ‘in business’ now. As they opened the car door at the clinic amid a flurry of humble thank-you’s to me, I thanked Hashem for the zchus of having such a diamond in my car.

 

Another buzz at 1:30 AM. This one an emergency. A woman was unable to breathe and required immediate assistance. An ambulance had arrived and determined that hospital treatment was needed. But getting her there was impossible due to her wide girth. A large stretcher was needed. Ezer Mizion was contacted.  Does anyone in your Linked to Life Group have one? In moments I was wide awake and dressed. Together with the paramedics, we lifted the patient onto my stretcher and transported her to the hospital in time to receive the treatment she needed.

Alone? Never! No Jew is ever alone when his fellow Jews are Linked to Life.

Like to join? SMS: 011 972 52 580 8936

For further info: www.ezermizionusa.org       5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219                               718 853 8400

What the Kids Have Discovered

July 6, 2017

helping handssSome say that the new generation is steeped in materialism and can’t see past their ipod screens. Is it true? A recent event in Israel honoring junior volunteers yielded some surprises.

Last summer, M, a sixth grader, noticed something strange going on in her neighbor’s home. “There are two children living there, and I understood that their mother had cancer. She was undergoing treatments, and some of the time, was even hospitalized. And those kids were home alone.” M. decided to help. She invited the kids to her house, which turned into a regular practice. “They come every day after school, eat lunch, do their homework with me and play games. They go home only when a relative arrives to be with them.” M. didn’t see anything extraordinary about what she had been doing but the organizers at the event thought differently and she was singled out for an award.

S joined M on stage also unsure of why she was there. “We have an elderly neighbor with no children or family, and also, almost no money. I think that he doesn’t always even have what to eat. I come to him almost every day with food, sit with him a bit and speak to him. It’s just regular. Anyone would do it.”

Many of these children have discovered Ezer Mizion as the place where there is always a need for chessed. Z has been volunteering for Ezer Mizion since she was seven years old. She just walked in to Ezer Mizion and asked to volunteer. “They didn’t understand what I wanted. After all, I was just a little kid. They smiled and gave me a few jobs, thinking I’d soon get tired and go home. It’s been five years since then, and I’m still there. Twice a week (“Before Yom Tov, every day, and during vacation, all day”)

I come straight from school, put down my book bag in a corner, and get to work. I arrange meal trays, pack up vegetables, and give food to anyone who comes with a note. Sometimes, I go to the preschools and pick up non-perishable leftovers from lunch. Sometimes, I deliver food packages to people’s homes, and other times, I make order in the storeroom, depending on what needs to be done.”

Don’t you ever feel that your volunteering comes at the expense of other fun things, like music or art lessons, or spending time with friends?

“It gives me a good feeling to volunteer, and I also enjoy it. If I have a lesson or club, or if I make up to meet with a friend, I go there after I finish at Ezer Mizion. Before Yom Tov, I was there every day and I helped pack up food packages. I think that helping people who are in need is more important than all the other stuff. It also makes you feel good, in your heart. It leaves you with a taste for more.   I am the youngest volunteer they’ve ever had.”

D has found a different venue for helping others. One can’t help noticing her lovely hair. That hair is now on several other heads in addition to hers. D is grateful for her beautiful hair and feels it’s proper to ‘give back’ by donating it to Ezer Mizion. “When I was five, I saw a picture of a girl who was bald. My mother explained to me that the girl is sick and that part of the treatment for her illness made her hair fall out. To me, that was awful, and I knew that I wanted to help. I said I would give her some of my hair. It’s funny. Usually little kids have ideas that don’t really make much sense. Little did I know that my idea about giving my hair was a real possibility and done by many people. My mother said that I was too small. She assumed I’d forget about it. But I couldn’t. Every time I thought of that girl being so embarrassed walking around with no hair, I wanted to help. Finally, when I got to second grade, my mother agreed.

Did you have any regrets?

“No. I knew that I had plenty of hair and that it would grow back. I actually waited for my hair to grow in enough so that I could donate it again. This year, my braid reached the right length, so I went to have it cut and donated it. I had a lot of hair this time. They might even be able to make two wigs from it.”

D.relates that the day of her haircut was a happy day for her, “because it meant that there would be a girl somewhere who would look in the mirror and forget about her sickness, at least for a few minutes. I try to convince my friends to donate to Ezer Mizion, too, even though each one of them loves her hair and finds it really hard to part with it.”

The stage was soon filled with youngsters who had discovered what many adults do not know. What do you think? Will Ezer Mizion have any problem filling its volunteer slots next generation?

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: www.ezermizion.org              5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219             718 853 8400

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cancer on Its Way Out! Happy Two-Year Birthday to Me!

June 28, 2017

Numbers are funny things. They look nice and neat, march in straight rows. They create groups (3 of these and 5 of those) and somehow make us feel that everything is under control. Until one personally finds herself in one of those groups – the wrong one.  The one that people don’t like to mention. You know,   the C word.  Cancer.

That was me. The C monster opened its mouth and grabbed me right before my trip to South America. I had been planning it for months but it wasn’t going to be. I gave myself a compensation prize of some amazing tours in different countries but in between, I toured hospitals.

When cancer ruined my plans…

It was on the big trip to New Zealand, exactly a year ago. Right in the middle of a fantastic trek, when, dressed in a sunhat and attempting to conquer some mountain, I fell apart. I could barely do the last part of the trail, because my body started to weaken. They started doing all kinds of tests. It seemed that my liver, lungs, mouth, nose, skin were all affected but I was still going. The Ezer Mizion staff was there with me every step of the way, holding my hand, offering professional advice and helping out in countless practical ways. I started taking steroids and began to look like a balloon, and then things calmed down a little.

When Cancer brought me to the Emergency Room

But not for long. One day, I felt really strong pains in my leg, like I’d never felt before. We went directly to the Emergency Room to check out what it was. It turned out that… I’d broken my hip. Yes, it sounds strange, but it had broken, without my falling, without anything. They explained to me that this is one of the side effects of steroids. Those numbers again. I was “privileged” to be one of the “lucky few” for whom steroids cause fractures. Since then, there were a few other breaks in places that you can’t put a cast on. If I were a car, you would just replace those parts. But, guess what, I’m not a car. My body is not built for new replacement parts. It prefers to keep the ones it has.  So now, I can’t run, dance, walk, hike, and some other things like I used to…

The cancer did not stop me from living, though. I switched from hiking to taking some courses that I had always dreamed of.  It also brought many new things into my life, some good ones like meeting the unbelievably caring people at Ezer Mizion and some not so good like blood radiations that I had to do every two weeks and million new pills of all colors and sizes that decorated my kitchen counter.

Cancer Cancelled

But not forever. I’m celebrating a birthday this month. It’s the two-year birthday of my replacement. I did get a replacement of sorts. A bone marrow replacement. My friends at Ezer Mizion set it up for me.  They had to find a DNA match. I was very lucky, they said. From the over 856,000 people on their database, there was one match. His name is E. and he was happy to donate his marrow. Even though he didn’t even know me. I’m on my way to full recovery now.

So, happy two-year birthday to my body! Some birthday wishes…

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Happy Birthday to the End of Cancer

I wish me that I should soon stop going to hospitals, taking pills, and getting stabbed with needles.

That I should continue growing and flourishing in my new career (remember those courses?).

That I should soon have the strength to begin paying back and joining the thousands of Ezer Mizion volunteers in helping others like me.

Thank you, E. for donating bone marrow to me without even knowing me!!! You are a part of me now, whether you like it or not…

 

Being on the Giving End

June 21, 2017

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Rivi has spent the last two hours in her kitchen running from sink to counter, fridge to oven. The smells are mouth-watering. Roast chicken, potato kugel…just like you and me. What’s different, you ask.  The difference is the interruptions. Her cell phone seems attached to her ear. A cancer patient calls and is desperate for a ride to the clinic. Her planned transportation fell through and missing her appointment is not an option. She’s crying.  Can Rivi help? Chicken breast in one hand, Transportation Roster in the other, she scrolls down, makes first call. Negative. Second. Third. Bingo. A volunteer is able to drop everything and make the trip. Back to the schnitzel. But only until the next call. Mrs. D. was recently diagnosed with cancer. The family is falling apart. There’s no food for Shabbos. The father had planned   on eating cheese with challa for the seudos. More than that he couldn’t handle. Can anything be done? Schnitzel waits patiently on the counter while another roster – this time of volunteers to prepare meals – is consulted.

“How do you do it,” we ask. “How can you manage your own home while dealing with all these major problems?”

“I have strength. I can walk. I am capable of running my home. I’m so thankful. These people that call are not able to do so.”

Rivi Kossover is Assistant director at Ezer Mizion’s Jerusalem branch. She laughs when we ask what her hours are. “Sometimes I leave at three. Sometimes at six. It depends on what’s going on.” It’s quite obvious that Rivi’s work hours do not end when she arrives home. Like all Ezer Mizion staff, she doesn’t know the meaning of regular work hours. “Work is over when no one needs me,” she feels. “How can I relax with a magazine if a cancer patient is in tears a few blocks away?”

Rivi takes a lemon cake out of the oven and puts it on the cooling rack to await its lemon icing. Maybe it will get iced. Maybe not. It depends on the interruptions. Some weeks the cake is “iced” with chessed.  But it’s always yummy.

“I can put my housework on some kind of schedule but I never know what will be needed at Ezer Mizion. People go through crises and we try to be there for them. Like the call I got from a neighbor the other day. Five kids, two in their teens and three even younger, were taking care of their cancer-stricken mother. They were wonderful, putting their own lives on hold and giving everything they had to the mother they so loved.  But they’re only human and those kids desperately needed a break. Could I arrange something? Well, I have a picture of those kids waving from a boat, looking as if they don’t have care in the world. They had a wonderful day, just being kids and it gave them strength to go on. it’s called Vitamin Fun. They’ll need another shot of vitamins every so often. Ezer Mizion will make sure they get it.”

A little boy in one family is doing poorly in school. His father used to review with him every night but now Abba is either at the hospital or recuperating from chemo. The young child, forced to grow up too soon, tiptoes through his house, afraid to disturb. He doesn’t even mention his 40 in the last quiz. That’s all history now. Ezer Mizion has taken over with a volunteer to help him. He’s raising his hand in class with the best of them.

Meals. Rides. Help with the kids. Medical advice. A place to stay during treatment. Emotional Therapy when it becomes too difficult to deal with the fears. Rivi’s phone never rests and neither, it seems, does she but, as she says, “I’m just thankful that I can be on the giving 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.

For further info: www.ezermizion.org    5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219    718 853 8400

When Cancer Necessitates Saying Goodbye

June 14, 2017

pr canc sup Maor Cohen says goodbye to Ophir
When Cancer Necessitates Saying Goodbye

Maor Cohen is a highly sensitive man who is known at Ezer Mizion as Mr. Lego. He raises the spirits of both children and adults battling life-threatening diseases with his Lego Workshop in addition to his hospital visits to those who cannot attend the workshop. Many have asked how he manages to create deep relationships that are too often broken when his ‘lego-friends’ leave this world. Share his thoughts below.

On Sunday, you were beginning treatment.

We arranged that I would come.

An event that I’m responsible for is stretching out longer than expected, and I’m thinking of you.

It’s already 10:30 PM.

I send a text message to your mother: “Does it still make sense for me to come?”

She replies that she thinks it would be better tomorrow.

A minute goes by, and she calls. “Maor, come now. Ophir wants you.”

11:30 PM. I’m sitting next to you. You ask me to tell you what’s in the Lego kit I brought you.

You plan how you’ll build it, and I enjoy planning it with you. Making plans implies a future.

Today, your soul departed and went to Heaven.

I am left here, to miss

your engaging smile,

your wise look,

your soft voice,

your desire to create,

your enthusiasm as we build together,

the special way you entered my heart,

the phone calls before each treatment,

your very special Ima and Abba,

who became like family to me.

Ophir, you went through days that were not at all simple.

And all you wanted was to live.

The moments I spent with you are engraved in my heart

and will stay with me forever.

No words can bring solace,

but there is great comfort in having known you.

You will always remain in my heart.

Watch over me from up there, please.

Rest, little sister, rest.

Special Needs: Accepting Those Who Are Different

June 8, 2017

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Summer for the Special Child

The summer break is a magical world of fascinating experiences for children, who enjoy the long days of vacation and fun, of frolic and adventure. At the same time, it can be quite a headache for parents, who are kept busy figuring out how to keep the children occupied and who will supervise them when the adults go to work and take care of other occupations.

This “headache” is twice as daunting when we are speaking of children with special needs and impairments, who need extra attention and even closer supervision. Their world is cramped into the limited scope of their families and they get lost in the lack of  routine, as dependent children who constantly need a loving look, a caress, and help in mobility. Their inability to adapt to to an unstructured day leads to chaos and misery both on the part of other family members and the child himself. the house is continually upside-down. Siblings cannot invite a friend over for a game or even read more than a page of a book without a sudden avalanche of the contents of dresser drawers coming tumbling down on them. The logistics of a simple trip to the local park make it an impossibility for the family to enjoy. Mommy cannot even dream of a more complex trip to the zoo. As frustrated as the family becomes, the frustrations are two-fold for the special child who does not have a clue as to how to productively occupy himself.  For special-needs children, the world of experiences is piled with challenges that may seem banal and self-understood. But for these children, one on one guidance is vitally needed for the success of even the simplest activity. An organized professional day camp is not a luxury. It is a necessity.

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Special Needs Fun at Amusement Park

Anyone who did not see the 130 children who came every day from the entire Southern region (Netivot, Ofakim, Sderot, Beesheva, and all the surrounding towns) to Ezer Mizion’s day camp for special-needs children – never saw what real happiness looks like. The day camp provided concentrated days of happiness and high spirits, fun and adventure for the children, and hours of substantial relief for the parents and siblings. In addition to the mobility accessories, playground equipment, fun workshops, entertainment, arts and crafts, chocolate-making, drumming, baking, musical activities, animal performances, dog training, trips, and attractions, the day camp was unique in the tremendous power of giving demonstrated by its more than 250 volunteers. Each child was assigned a personal volunteer who looked after him and saw to all his personal needs. The day camp had twice as many volunteers as campers, enabling half the volunteers to alternately rest and recharge their batteries, to be ready for the challenge of boundless giving that characterizes the day camp.

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Special Needs Summer Fun

“I am very happy and excited,” said one mother whom we met on the site, glowing with pleasure at the sight of her son in his wheelchair, grinning from ear to ear. “But my happiness is tempered by a bit of sadness.”  “Why are you sad?” we asked, surprised at the tears that seemed about to burst from her blinking eyes.” “I’m sad because tomorrow, the day camp will be over and my son will be back home, without a framework to keep him busy,” she said, looking longingly in the direction of the chairman of Ezer Mizion’s Netivot branch, Rabbbi Naftali Kuber. Rabbi Kuber is the engine moving the wheels of the day camp. He is in charge of the tremendously complex project of getting the day camp going and running smoothly, among other things – rallying the funds to provide the children with a rich breakfast and a hot, attractive lunch. You couldn’t miss the sense of anguish expressed by the mother. Naftali, who is used to emotional moments such as these, promised that “He who places his trust in Hashem will be surrounded by chessed, loving-kindness.” The father of a boy from Beersheva joins the circle: “There is nothing like this. This is a tremendous chessed enterprise with power that cannot be captured in words. My little boy comes home every day happy and cheerful, alert and full of joie de vivre, a stark contrast to routine days, when he returns exhausted and miserable.”

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Special Needs Children

The day camp took place on the Chemdat Hadarom College campus in the Sedot Negev regional council. A number of entities and companies sponsored the various activities, including: the Netivot Community Center, the Netivot Social Services Department, Sedot Negev Educational department, the various municipalities in the area, Klalit Health Services, which rallied with a warm heart for the cause, and the Dan Badarom bus company, which donated a bus to transport the volunteers every day. Every visitor who stopped into the day camp was struck by the love and special joy that prevailed in the day camp, and by the volunteers who devoted their personal vacation on behalf of the special children.

Rabbi Naftali Kuber, chairman of Ezer Mizion’s Netivot branch, warmly thanked Netivot Maor Yechiel Zohar for his outstanding assistance in organizing the day camp, and Tamir Idan, head of the edot Negev Council, who also rallied on behalf of the children and graciously provided all necessary assistance.

Help those on the waiting list for 2017!

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Momentous Conference on AAC (Alternative and Augmentative Communication)

May 24, 2017

pr voca AAC conf 4 17 fEzer Mizion, a leader in the field of Alternative and Augmentative Communication, recently hosted a major conference whose purpose was to bring the latest innovations to both professionals and family members. The plight of those who were never given or who have lost their ability to speak has long been on Ezer Mizion radar.

One cannot imagine the anguish of an intelligent, hitherto productive adult with opinions of many subjects who is forced to remain silent as discussions take place around him. His dignity is further reduced when obliged to accept as his daily needs what others provide for him, unable to make his basic wants known.

For a child, the situation is even worse as speech is a vital element in his development. His IQ is hampered in its maturation due to lack of communication with those around him.

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Presenting the Latest on Communication Devices and Methods

Ezer Mizion AAC professionals have done much research and have been on the cutting edge of each new advancement. The conference was purported to share this knowledge with conference participants  which included speech and language practitioners, OT’s, others in the field of language and communication from schools, speech clinics and medical centers all over Israel  in addition to key leadership from Bituach Leumi (Israel’s Health Insurance). World class clinicians and technical developers  in the field of augmentative communication sat alongside end-users and their families each gleaning new concepts that will give a voice to those who cannot speak.

Watch Martin ‘speak’ at the event

 

MK Litzman, Israel’s Minister of Health, addressed the conference expressing the Israel government’s satisfaction in being part of Ezer Mizion’s endeavor to make communication accessible to all members of the population.

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Excellent Communication without Normative Speech

Conference keynote speaker was Dr. Melanie Fried-Oken, who is a certified speech-language pathologist, a professor of neurology, pediatrics, biomedical engineering and otolaryngology (ENT) and an adjunct professor in the Communication Disorders and Sciences Department at Portland State University.

Dr. Oken’s clinical area of focus is augmentative and alternative communication. She has been serving adults with communication disorders since 1979. When not in clinic, Dr. Fried-Oken leads an active federally-funded research team that explores technology, new interventions, and patient-centered outcomes for individuals with significant communication impairments and their families.

Dr. Oken inspired everyone with her groundbreaking research and innovations in the field of AAC, working closely with hi-tech developers on AAC solutions for people with communication impairments.

The conference achieved its goal of raising awareness among AAC professionals regarding innovations in the field and options available for high tech AAC solutions and how to access them. Many of the professionals are committing to the series of lectures that Ezer Mizion will be giving in coming months on AAC related topics which will further enrich the professional world and ultimately people for whom speech and communication is a constant challenge.

Enable access to hi-tech communication devices to more of the speech impaired!

 

Holocaust Survivors: What are they doing now?

May 17, 2017

pr golden -f-IMG_4766-maleCompanionship. A vital need at every stage of life. And especially essential for the holocaust survivor. Rivka is a typical survivor.   She was born in 1930, in Lodz and grew up with her parents and three siblings in a warm, supportive family. But the war came crashing down on this idyllic family life and young Rivka was left all alone. Illness took the lives of her parents and her siblings perished in Auschwitz and Treblinka. Life as she had known it was no more and the future looked bleak indeed. But brick by brick, she rebuilt her life, marrying and raising a family. And now at 87 years old, she sits, absorbed in her memories, in need of the companionship of those who understand. Spending her days in a rocking chair by the window would be perfectly acceptable but she doesn’t want that. She wants to laugh. She wants to share. She wants to connect with others. And so Rivka became a member of Ezer Mizion’s ‘British Café Club’ and, for the past four years, has not missed an activity. Whatever the weather – cold, rainy, scorching hot – Rivka is there. Bright and bubbly and ever so grateful to the staff. Recently she fell and fractured her arm. But that didn’t stop her. Her arm ensconced in a cast, she surprised us all at the next event, showering blessings upon each individual staff member. “I’m a holocaust survivor and my blessings have substantial weight in heaven,” she says as she moves on to the next person with her warm words of praise.

The club meets three times a week. One hundred and twenty members partake of a healthy breakfast, exercise and lectures on a variety of subjects including current events, seasonal topics, and health maintenance. Parties and field trips are frequent additions. At the club, Rivka enjoys a warm, supportive, stimulating environment in the company of women who went through similar traumatic experiences. For Rivka, the club is a place where she feels comfortable sharing her thoughts, and at times, her difficulties, alongside stories and jokes that bring a smile to her friends’ faces.

After Rivka broke her arm, Ezer Mizion arranged for home attendants to be sure she received the care she needed. The home attendants were chosen with forethought and were able to provide not only personal care and homemaking but also friendship and a listening ear. Rivka is comfortable speaking to them at length about her difficult past and the shocking ordeals she and her extended family underwent. A very significant relationship was woven between Rivka and her attendants, past and present. Now whenever Rivka arrives at the Club, the staff that handles the attendants also receive her heartfelt words of gratitude and blessings.

Like Rivka, Rochel is the sole survivor of her entire family. In 1946, she arrived in Israel on the “Biria” ship alone and bewildered in a world gone mad. Rochel is 94 and not only is she lucid but she has a sparkling, animated personality and a great sense of humor which is enjoyed by all he fellow club members.

Her experiences lay buried within her and her senior years found her with a burning desire to share them with others. The club members were her first audience. Once the dam broke, her thoughts come pouring out in a torrent and it was never enough. Ezer Mizion arranged for varied frameworks, enabling her tell her story again and again. She also hosted high school students in her home who were mesmerized by her experiences. A powerful speaker, she told her story at community centers and at high schools.

Ezer Mizion’s Eshnav program is a one-on-one program provided in the homes of homebound survivors. In the framework of the program, every Holocaust survivor receives a personal service package tailored to his/her needs. The service package includes: social support, physical exercise, cognitive enrichment, music, social and functional enrichment through game playing, and more.

Through the Eshnav project, Rachel was assigned a social work student, who came every week to her home, as part of her practicum. A marvelous, most significant bond was formed between the two. Even after her training was completed, the student chose to continue her connection with Rachel, serving as a pseudo-granddaughter. Together, they talk about current events, read newspapers, laugh together, and sometimes even bake or prepare special dishes. Rachel attests that her bond with the student literally gives her life.

One of the youngest holocaust survivors, Tzippy, was four years old when she was smuggled out with her mother and three siblings and hidden by Raoul Wallenberg in hide-out apartments. During that time, they suffered severe hunger. The family lost her younger brother to starvation. Chananya, another survivor, was nine when he was deported with his family to Auschwitz. Both were fortunate to have survived the war together with family members. In 1958, they married and began to rebuild. Now in their golden years, they are anxious to give to those that were even less fortunate. Tzippy is a volunteer at the club, preparing breakfast, escorting the more frail members from gym to activity room and delivering interesting talks on a variety of subjects. Giving to those who shared similar experiences fills a deep need within her. Volunteering became more difficult when Chananya fell and fractured his leg. With no elevator, he was now homebound. But that didn’t stop him from creating. An Ezer Mizion staff member visited him and was stunned to find his home filled with breathtaking artistic creations, the fruit of years of labor. The painstakingly prepared creations, using original materials, depicted his life story from holocaust to rebirth. Newly registered in the Eshnav program, Chananya now receives weekly guided physical activity as well as stimulating conversation with a social worker student who has become fascinated by his artwork and the story behind it.

Unfortunately shortly afterwards, Tzippy also fell on her way home from her volunteer work at the club. Ezer Mizion immediately dispatched a caring home attendant to help her out but all of us at Ezer Mizion look forward to the time when she will once again be on the giving end.

These are our heroes, men and women who survived a horrific nightmare and went on to build, to create, to flourish and give to the world. Now it’s our turn to offer support to these courageous champions. May they enjoy their golden season for many years to come.

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Compassion Makes the Wheels Go ‘Round

May 10, 2017

When staff really cares. When it’s not just a job…punch in/punch out. When the CEO gives out his cell number to recently orphaned children telling them to call anytime (and they do). When volunteers are inspired to drop what thepr general hel;ioong hand in darky are doing, time and time again, to help out a someone in need… this is compassion at its best.

Sometimes it requires the utmost sensitivity. Like the kallah (bride) whose chassan (groom) was discovered shortly before the wedding to have leukemia. The wedding was rescheduled and the newlywed couple tried to build a home, albeit in a different way than planned, together. Ezer Mizion supported them in every way. The nightmare is over now. Please look over our shoulder, dear reader and supporter, as we read together the letter sent to the Ezer Mizion office. It is your gifts that enable Ezer Mizion to continue being the strong, dependable pillar for so many to lean on.

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An grateful thank you letter from our files

To the Fantastic, Special Organization: Ezer Mizion!

First of all, we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your boundless giving and support, which helped us and gave us the tools we needed to get through a most difficult period, physically strong and emotionally healthy.

About two years ago, we got engaged, b’sha’ah tovah u’mutzlachat. The engagement period passed by pleasantly, filled with many hopes and dreams about the home that we would build together and the happy life we would share.

We do not know Hashem’s (G-d’s) calculations, but we do know that everything He does is for the best. And so, a month before our wedding, my husband was diagnosed with leukemia.

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Ezer Mizion, Israel

Suddenly, everything looked different… The wedding was pushed up to take place a few days later, and immediately afterwards, we began treatment. The physical and emotional pain and the challenges involved in these treatments are too complex to describe…

Amid all the agony and frustration, the Ezer Mizion team – a marvelous organization unmatched in its unfaltering assistance and support – appeared on the scene, truly loyal messengers. They helped us in countless ways, both practical and emotional. They were always there, even before we realized we needed something.

Ezer Mizion wisely and gently set us up with an expert therapist, which, in our sensitive situation, was truly a lifesaver!! She listened, supported, encouraged, and counseled us. She baruch Hashem (thank G-d) helped us in this very delicate situation, not to break down, but to remain happy, strong, optimistic, and full of emunah (faith), using our challenge to grow and form an even closer bond.

Again, we feel eternally grateful to those who were behind all this outpouring of chessed- those who helped, those whose financial support enabled this help…

We give you our heartfelt blessings that you should always be on the giving end, in good health, joy and happiness, and may Divine assistance accompany you in all your endeavors.

With our greatest appreciation,

Moshe and Chedvah

 

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Cancer Support via What’s App

 Compassion…Sometimes it requires the flexibility of changing plans at the drop of a hat. A family with three small children recently emigrated to Israel from France. Resettling was hard enough but became overwhelming when the wife was suddenly diagnosed with cancer. Rides to the clinic, professional emotional support, regular meals, child care assistance, medical advocacy would all be theirs in a short time.  But right now, this morning when Ezer Mizion became aware of their plight, they needed lunch. Food strengthens the body. Food invigorates the soul. Food enables the family to handle the crisis suddenly thrust upon them. And no lunch was yet on schedule.  A call went out to volunteers: I know it’s very short notice but can anyone provide a hot lunch for five people today and for the next two days? In 1.5 minutes, that’s ninety seconds (!), one of our angels responded. A delicious, attractively served lunch was prepared by one volunteer, delivered by another to the family on time as if it were weeks in the preparation.

Ezer Mizion: where caring and compassion provides the electricity that makes the wheels go ‘round.

Would you like to join the ‘wheel of compassion’?