Posts Tagged ‘Israel Defense Force’

Many of You Have Asked…

May 4, 2017

Does Ezer Mizion provide transplants to Israel residents only?


people helping people around globeEzer Mizion receives Search requests form oncology clinics around the globe. DNA matching is based on ethnics. As the largest Jewish Registry in the world, Ezer Mizion is the natural address for an oncology clinic working with a Jewish patient in Europe, Russia, South Africa, South America, Australia, Canada and the US.


In April 2017, 14 of 31 transplants were done for Israeli residents and 17 for countries around the world including 6 in US and Canada.


Did the partnership with the IDF create any significant change in the success of finding DNA matches?


idf-celebration-2016-aDue to IDF recruits being young and healthy, they remain on the database for decades, thus greatly increasing the chances of eventually being found to be a match for a patient. In addition, they come from highly varied backgrounds resulting in much increased representation among minority ethnic groups.


In April 2017, 18 of the 21 transplants funded by donor pools are IDF recruits, some having been inducted and joined the registry just a; few months ago.


How long, on the average, does it take for a new Bone Marrow Donor Pool to receive the at long awaited letter: You have saved a life!


There can, of course, be no guarantees. In April of 2017, 4 of the 21 transplants funded by donor pools were opened within the last half year.


Bags of Chessed

November 30, 2016

Countless guests converged upon the palatial home of President Rivlin and, the following day, the Hilton, Israel Ballroom to participate in the grand event celebrating the achievements of Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Registry which has saved 2200 Jewish lives. Requests arrive regularly from 47 countries worldwide. Come join us on an emotional roller coaster as one speaker after another demonstrates its accomplishments.


idf-celebration-2016-gThe MC takes the stage. “This evening is dedicated to our heroes. The first was Moshe Shayek who was battling cancer. The only way to save Moshe’s life was with a bone marrow transplant. His friends went from door to door collecting 5000 samples. But, sadly, the hoped-for DNA match wasn’t found, and Moshe died. In gratitude to Ezer Mizion for its assistance, his parents found the inner strength to rise above their personal pain and suggested using the many samples to found a donor registry. Thus was born Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry. Moshe’s parents have joined us here tonight, full of nachas at what was created in the merit of their son.


“Two-year-old Naamah was diagnosed with leukemia. Ezer Mizion rallied to the cause and launched a nationwide campaign. Fifty-five stations were deployed across the country. And it worked! 4384 samples were collected in one day. After an extensive search, the matching donor was found, a soldier. But when the donor’s family was contacted, we discovered the family sitting shiva. The son had just been killed in a terrorist attack. In one critical moment, Naamah’s only hope disappeared. After three years of suffering and hopes, dozens of hospitalizations and grueling treatments, Naamah Biton passed away at the tender age of five. But, from the pool of samples collected in the campaign, six transplants took place, saving the lives of six Jews.


pr-amit-kodosh-bat-mitzvahSix year old Amit Kadosh needed a transplant to save her young life. The Jewish people rallied en masse. 63,045 samples were registered in one day, a world record that hasn’t been broken to this day. From among these samples, to date, 96 lifesaving transplants were carried out. Amit, who recently became Bas Mitzvah, is with us here tonight.


Allow me to introduce you to some other heroes.


Good evening. My name is Nitai Weiner. In 2013, when I was 15 and a half, I got leukemia. I went through a series of treatments, which helped for a while, but then the disease returned. In order to save my life, they had to do a bone marrow transplant. Last March, the transplant took place.. Today, I am healthy, thank G-d, and in another two months, I will turn 19.I hope to live a long, full life.



Good evening. My name is Yechiel Rebibo. We want to thank David Farajon for his gracious donation to Ezer Mizion which enabled hundreds of potential donors to be genetically tested. Genetic testing is costly and without his gift, these donors would not have been on the Ezer Mizion database. Thanks to this gift, my life and the lives of many others were saved. May you be divinely blessed, David. Of course, I want to thank the tzaddik, Ohr Biton, whose DNA testing was funded by the Farajun Family and found to be my DNA match. He donated his bone marrow and saved my life.


My name is David Farajun. I am deeply moved. My family has had the privilege to have 66 lifesaving transplants take place from our family donor pool to date. The next generation will carry on after us. This is my heritage to you, my children.


moti-zisser-gifGood evening. My parents are Motty z”l and tibadel l’chaim, Dr. Bracha Zisser, founders of the Registry.


It is a great privilege for me to stand here tonight for my parents. I grew up in the shadow of the Registry. Still, until I saw the meetings of the donors and their recipients I didn’t understand quite how marvelous this chessed is. Two strangers fall on each other’s shoulders with tears of joy and embrace as dear friends.


My father who is no longer with us here today built malls, hotels and marinas… but his name is associated, more than anything, with the concept of chessed.


My father knew that we are not really disconnected individuals, but rather a single human tapestry. Perhaps because of this understanding, the mitzvah of establishing the Bone Marrow Registry came into my parents’ hands.


You never know whom your donation will affect. It might go to strangers whom you will never meet. But the donation might one day help you yourself or your best friend…

When my parents established the Registry, they never could have dreamed that years later, that same Registry they founded would grant my father three years of life. It may not sound like enough, but during these years, he merited dancing at a son’s wedding and got to know three grandchildren.


pr pix bmr cells168_ne_photo_b90aaThe bone marrow that he received, the “bag of chessed,” as he called it, waited there just for him, only thanks to the understanding that he attained years earlier – that as a society, we are actually one entity.


Thank you to everyone who took and takes part in this important enterprise. Thank you to everyone who came here this evening. We wish a complete recovery to all the patients and many more years of productive activity in good health.


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










President Rivlin Hosts IDF Celebration

September 22, 2016

A decade ago, the IDF recognized the invaluable initiative of Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry and became its partner in saving the lives of cancer patients around the globe. An Ezer Mizion Registration Booth became an integral part of the IDF Recruiting Station enabling new recruits to join the Registry. Thus began the much lauded partnership between Ezer Mizion and the Israel Defense Forces which enabled its soldiers to not only protect its country but also saves Jewish lives worldwide. The vast range of ethnicities among the soldiers have resulted in a dramatically positive response to the thousands of search requests for a genetic match for patients whose sole chance of survival is a transplant. To date, eleven hundred IDF soldiers have donated their stem cells to cancer patients worldwide.

In the words of an overjoyed mother: Who would have imagined that a young religious man from Israel would be the only person in the world who could save our son’s life as he battled AML? We are forever grateful to this wonderful organization, Ezer Mizion, and the work they do.

In keeping with his great respect for the work of Ezer Mizion, President Reuven Rivlin and his esteemed First Lady opened the Presidential Residence to host the momentous event honoring these IDF soldiers who were individually presented with treasured Lifesaving Medallions. The guests witnessed the results of the soldiers’ altruism, Jews who were only alive today because these young men had joined the Registry.

Dr. Bracha Zisser, together with her husband Moti, who recently succumbed to his own bout with cancer, had founded Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry in 1998 when they clearly saw the need for a Jewish registry. Dr. Zisser took the microphone and began speaking about a man named Erez Raslovsky, then stopped mid-speech and called him up to tell his own story. In a voice choked with tears, he thanked Ezer Mizion that his children would not have to grow up as orphans. A family man with a wife and kids, he had been told that he had only six months to live. “I would love to meet the man who saved my children’s father,” he ended. Within seconds, as if drawn by a strong magnet, Omer Ben Horin ran up to the stage no longer able to hold back his tears. The two embraced. Like brothers, from here on in, they would always be a part of each other’s lives. David and Sarah Farajun, whose donor pool had funded the genetic testing of Ben Horin, joined the two on stage in an emotional triangle of triumph. Soon it Shir Tahar’s turn to tell her story. She had been planning a trip to South America. She expected minor difficulties perhaps a delayed flight or a missing suitcase. What she didn’t expect was leukemia. Literally on the eve of her flight, she experienced extreme pain in her legs. Prognosis: possible death unless a bone marrow transplant could take place soon. She met her donor, Eyal Goldman, for the first time on the lawn of the Presidential Residence. “ I owe him my life,” she cried.

Guests were shown a heartrending film of an angelic nine-year-old girl recently diagnosed with cancer who was waiting for the Phone Call. At nine, she understood that without a bone marrow transplant, she would not celebrate her tenth birthday. Will a DNA match be found? In time? While her mother hugs her and urges her to be strong and have hope, each guest inwardly joins in her prayers, her dreams of a future. President Rivlin was visibly moved as he began his address, noting that this is not the usual event hosted at the Presidential Residence.

The celebration was followed by a dinner. The two events were filled with a myriad of guests with nary an inch to spare. Chananya Chollak, International Chairman of Ezer Mizion, warmly welcomed the guests saying we are all one family and feel each other’s pain. And one family it was. All eyes were riveted to the dias as David Ivry, vice President of Boeing International, whose Donor Pool Circle has saved many lives emotionally stated what so many other founders of Donor Pool Circles have found to be true: whoever gives receives so much more. He was followed by others who thanked Ezer Mizion. Said Avrohom Fluk, Chairman of the Board of YDI Ltd.: My hand trembled when I first received a letter saying I had saved a life. Saved a life? I had saved a world as the Talmud states. I had saved a family. I had saved his children. His grandchildren. His great-grandchildren. If I had to sum it up in one word it would be Thank You. Thank you Ezer Mizion for giving me such an opportunity. Said Manny Malekan: In two weeks it will be Rosh Hashona. Hashem will ask, “What have you done with the year I gave you? Is your life worth continuing? And I have an answer, “ I have helped Ezer Mizion!” One after the other, the dais was graced with those who helped save a life and those whose lives were saved. Atty. Moriel Matalon’s son fervently thanked Ezer Mizion for saving his father’s life. He was joined by his two young daughters who added their gratitude in their sweet, childish voices. Within seconds, the grandfather ascended the stage and hugged them all before beginning his own expression of appreciation of being able to watch his grandchildren grow up. He ended by ceremoniously donning a yarmulka and reciting the blessing thanking Hashem for giving him life. Three generations of the Farajun family joined others in thanking Ezer Mizion for enabling them to save sixty-six lives! The evening’s speeches were interspersed with songs of hope and dreams, creating an ambience high above the mundane of everyday living. The linen napkins, so crisp and sparkling only an hour before, were damp with tears as the hearts of the guests joined with those appearing on the dais, so gratified and elated to be a part of Ezer Mizion’s life-saving mission.

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


April 22, 2015

Chen knew the rules. But it didn’t matter. If she were to be expelled, so be it. This was more important. The Officer’s Course was difficult. Expulsion would mean starting from the beginning next term- a lot of unnecessary work. It may even mean a negative report on her record.
But on the other side of the scale was a three-year-old boy’s life. And she was the only one who could save him. His last chance was a bone marrow transplant. And she was the sole DNA match.
When Chen had enlisted into the IDF, she joined Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry, never expecting to actually be called. But she was called. In the middle of a grueling Officer’s Course. According to the official Training Base 1 rules, a cadet who misses a certain number of training days is required to appear before an expulsion committee. Expulsion. Serious business. And she had been doing so well up until now.
She tried to imagine the boy. A tiny tot. Mischievous eyes. Probably terrified of all the hospital paraphernalia. Being held by his mommy as the staff inserted an IV. Maybe dreaming of being a doctor when he grows up. Or perhaps with dreams of growing up to be a policeman or fireman. Then she pictured him actually grown up—with a wife and small boy of his own- her ‘grandchild’, sort of. But only if she went ahead with the bone marrow transplant. If she did, he would have a future. If she didn’t,…
Yes, she would do it. The Officer’s Course would wait if need be. And so she made the appointment to register at the hospital for preparatory treatment.
Chen was fortunate. The Training Base 1 commander, Colonel Avi Gil, decided: “There are rules, and there are exceptions to the rule, and your situation unquestionably falls into the latter category.” Chen breathed a sigh of relief. Then he continued: “I think that a good officer must, first and foremost, be a good human being. The sense of fulfillment that comes with saving a life is tremendous. At the IDF we are proud of this partnership with Ezer Mizion is saving lives.”
Not only did Chen receive her certification, she was also awarded the title of “Exceptional Cadet”. In heaven she certainly also received an award: Exceptional Human Being.
For further info:

Enlisting for Life

May 21, 2014

Enlisting for Life

We tend to take these things for granted but, in truth, it is miraculous. One person can cure another of a deadly disease. Cancer patients and those suffering from many other serious illnesses can be completely cured by means of a bone marrow transplant.
And that is what all the excitement was about. At Ezer Mizion’s recent event entitled Enlisting for Life, the first 500 IDF soldiers to have donated their bone marrow to save the life of another Jew were honored with an Enlisting for Life Award medallion. Many friends and supporters of Ezer Mizion traveled from as far as from the US to be present at this soul stirring happening. Five hundred young soldiers, some still in their teens, had, by means of a simple procedure, enabled another- often a small child-to have a future. Ezer Mizion welcomed every guest to share in their pride because, in the words of Dr. Bracha Zisser, Director of Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Regisitry: We couldn’t have done it without you all.
Keren Mansherov, now a vibrant 17 year old, is a case in point. As a young teen, she was stricken with cancer for the second time. Doctors said she had only one chance- a bone marrow transplant. Otherwise… A DNA match had to be found. Soon. A cancer patient cannot wait. Every member of her family was tested. They waited. Anxious. Terrified. But it was not to be. One after the other, the tests came back negative. Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish registry in the world, was contacted and the search was on. The computer hummed its hopeful tune. Its immense database of over 713,000 potential donors was combed. Success. Gal Chanuchiev, a 20-year-old soldier, was a match. Says Keren: “For a full year, I’ve been waiting to meet this noble man. If it were not for him, I would not be alive today.”
Mansherov was just 12 years old when cancer attacked her the first time. It started with bleeding wounds on her head, black-and-blue marks on her legs, stomach pains, throat aches, and swollen gums. Keren’s parents rushed with her to the family doctor, who noted also an enlargement of the spleen and referred them urgently to the emergency room.
“When we got to the hospital, they told us it would take several hours to get the blood test results,” Mansherov recalls. “But then, just a few minutes later, they took us to a side room. I was frightened. I understood that something not good was going on.” The bitter news was not long in coming: The doctors suspected leukemia of the aggressive AML type.
Mansherov was transferred to Schneider Children’s Hospital and began a long course of chemotherapy treatments. After months of hospitalizations, treatments, and painful tests, she received the good news that her body was free of the illness. But only three years later, the leukemia erupted once again, and this time, in far more severe form. Mansherov now had ALL-type leukemia, which is resistant to chemotherapy treatments.
The doctors, who realized that she was not moving towards recovery, determined that only a bone marrow transplant could save her life.
“I cried then and could think only of death,” she relates. “I was so afraid to die. It was a terrible trauma for a young girl who just wanted to live, to go to high school like all her friends, to have fun and enjoy life. Instead, I had to spend a significant part of my adolescence without hair, hooked up to an IV, going through grueling treatments and experiencing side effects. It was a terrible torturous journey that I just wanted to get out of already
During that period, the day of Gal Chanuchiev’s enlistment arrived. In the course of his chain of induction, he gave in a saliva sample for a potential bone marrow donation. “I didn’t think about it too much,” he says. “I gave a sample, joined Ezer Mizion’s registry and went on with the chain of induction.” Four months after he began his army service, Chanuchiev was informed that complete compatibility was found between his and Mansherev’s bone marrow.
“It was an exciting, high-charged day,” he relates. “I got home after the donation was over and I just fell apart. I thought about cancer. I thought about the person who would receive my donation and recover, and I was overcome by emotion. The tears just flowed. Afterwards, I went on with my life, with my army service, with my studies, and with my exercises at the fitness room.”
“During the course of this year, I inquired twice about the condition of the person who received my donation, whom I knew nothing about, and I was led to understand that she recovered.”
“I still don’t fully grasp that someone is alive today thanks to my bone marrow,” he says, “It is very moving. I didn’t do it to get a pat on the back. I am simply thrilled, and I would not hesitate to do it again. What is giving up one day in your life – to save a human life? The gap between the minor investment of effort and the tremendous contribution it effects is immeasurable.”
Professor Yitzchak Yaniv, the head of the Oncology Department at Schneider’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Director of Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry at Ezer Mizion’s Donald Berman Rehab Center, elucidates:
A bone marrow transplant is a medical procedure that leads to the recovery of many patients suffering from blood disease, cancer, hereditary diseases, and immune system deficiencies. In recent years, the number of bone marrow donations has risen dramatically around the world, including in Israel.
Bone marrow is the tissue within the bones from which stem cells develop – the body’s primary cells which regenerate on a regular basis and give rise to differentiated cells, among them blood system components such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. In the case of cancer, a transplant enables replacement of the patient’s bone marrow so as to renew his blood and immune systems.
The cells necessary for transplant to a sick person, the stem cells, can be harvested from a healthy by taking peripheral blood (which flows through the arteries and veins) by hooking up the patient intravenously to a device that separates out the necessary cells in a procedure that takes several hours and does not involve anesthesia or pain. This technique does not generate any sort of deficiency in the body of the donor since bone marrow renews itself so quickly all the time.
In order for the donor’s bone marrow to be appropriate for the recipient, the DNA type has to be compatible. The optimal donor is generally a close family relative, such as a brother, because he has a 25% chance of carrying the same exact genetic charge, to create full compatibility. If there is no matching brother, we look for a donor from the same ethnic background as the patient, since tissue types in different ethnic groups are preserved through the generations.
Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Registry is one of the largest registries in the world today, and is certainly the largest Jewish registry. In a collaborative project with the IDF, all new conscripts are offered the opportunity to join the Registry in the course of their induction. The response is growing all the time, and the result is an expansion of the Registry with a supply of ideal potential donors – young, healthy people with a variety of tissue types compatible with a wide range of populations. Today, the Registry has already provided 1,504 donations of bone marrow for transplant to patients, half of them in Israel and half around the world.
This article is based on excerpts of Ynet article by Dr. Itai Gal and Ha’aretz article by Professor. Yitzchak Yaniv
For further info:

Drafted For Life

January 19, 2011

In a festive ceremony marking five years of lifesaving collaboration between the IDF and Ezer Mizion, Brigadier General Avi Zamir, Head of IDF Human Resources Department, congratulated Rabbi Chananya Chollak, founder of Ezer Mizion, on a job well done. Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry has saved the lives of cancer patients the world over, whose only chance of survival had been a bone marrow transplant. To ensure success, both transplant donor and recipient must match genetically. Ezer Mizion’s Registry, the largest Jewish registry in the world, has over 547,000 potential donors. Its five-year partnership with the IDF, encouraging new recruits to join, has enriched the registry with young, healthy donors who will remain for a maximum length of time and whose genetic makeup stems from a diverse range of Jewish ethnicity. The large influx of IDF recruit registration, therefore, allows for a much greater chance of successful genetic matching than that of the general population. “We’ve done it together,” replied Rabbi Chollak with a handshake of sincere, shared joy.

The project, which started with the August 2005 induction cycle, has experienced great success. So far, 145,892 new soldiers have joined the Registry. From among these, 771 matches have already been found and 149 life-saving transplants were carried out. Ezer Mizion is responsible for taking the samples and financing their genetic scanning through fund-raising efforts. This collaborative effort with the IDF reflects a sincere and important acknowledgment by the IDF of Ezer Mizion’s broad and proven coordinative capabilities.

Mr. Motti Zisser, CEO of the Elbit Imaging Company (the company that sponsored the Ezer Mizion collection station at the Induction Base), spoke of the significance of blood as symbolic of a strong, close bond between one human being and another, and of the sanctity of life which comes into full, moving expression in this project linking new IDF draftees to the Bone Marrow Registry.

Dr. Bracha Zisser, director of the Registry says: “Ezer Mizion salutes each and every soldier who has selflessly joined the Registry to save the lives of people whom he has never met.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, a prestigious wall plague was unveiled with the names of those soldiers who have been privileged to donate their marrow to save a life. Soldiers and bone marrow recipients, together with their thankful families, gathered to view the plaque in a moment of overwhelming gratitude towards those whose efforts have borne the fruit of life itself.

For further info:

US Ambassador Visits Ezer Mizion

November 4, 2010

In an effort to get his finger on the pulse of the inner workings of this tiny Middle-East country, US Ambassador to Israel, Mr. James B. Cunningham, visited Ezer Mizion, Israel’s Health Support Organization, which has served Israel’s population since 1979.


The Ambassador was accompanied by his wife and embassy staff, including Ms. Bonnie Gutman, Counselor for Public Affairs, Mr. Leslie Smith, Senior Program Assistant at the embassy’s Public Affairs Office, Mr. Joseph Tordella, Deputy Cultural Affairs Officer, and others. They were escorted by Rabbi Yaakov Asher, Mayor of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Chanoch Zeitbart, Vice Mayor and municipal council members and Rabbi Aaron Dovid Davis, Director of the International Division at Central Agudath Israel in Jerusalem. 


The Ambassador, together with his celebrated entourage, was given an overview of Ezer Mizion’s broad scope of programs and its history. Never had the visitors seen an organization whose services ranged from geriatric care and prophylactic programs to varied undertakings to enhance the lives of the special child; from hi-tech equipment for the speech impaired to professional therapy for the child with cancer.  The ambassador was introduced to Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry which has saved the lives of so many cancer patients around the globe whose only chance of survival had been a bone marrow transplant. The presentation ended with a video of the emotional meeting between a bone marrow donor and an American cancer patient whose lifesaving transplant was facilitated by Ezer Mizion. The audience was brought to tears by the recipient’s expression of thanks to his donor and to Ezer Mizion.


Two Down syndrome girls then presented the Ambassador and his wife with a lovely oil painting and an exquisite piece of jewelry, both created by the girls at Ezer Mizion’s Beit Chana Activity Clubs for Special Needs Children. The ambassador was impressed upon hearing of the atmosphere of love and encouragement engendered by highly trained professionals and devoted volunteers at Beit Chana who have constructed programs enabling these children to grow and flourish and say to the world, “Yes, we can!”   



The girls enthusiastically told the guests: “We love coming to Ezer Mizion. This is our home! We have so much fun here. Would you like to see the club?” Ambassadors are very busy people. The schedule was tight and the hour was late. But one word from a very special child caused the hearts of assemblage to melt and the Goddess of Schedules to crumble. “Please?” she asked. The Ambassador and his wife – who were about to leave – turned around and went upstairs to visit the Beit Chana Activity Clubs where they graciously greeted a large group of special needs children together with the professional staff and many volunteers.


The tour of Ezer Mizion was an eye-opener for the Ambassador where he was able to see how Israel’s Jews care for one another. The Ambassador was deeply impressed with Ezer Mizion’s activities and saluted Chananya Chollak, who founded Ezer Mizion with his wife Leah in their modest apartment. “I am grateful for this opportunity to view up close an organization that grew from eight volunteers to 11,000 volunteers who work under a diverse, wide-ranging professional staff.” Jew helping Jew-this is what makes Israel the amazing country that it is.

Ezer Mizion: Their Challenges/ Our Mission.

Honorary Bar Ilan Doctorate Awarded to Founder of Ezer Mizion

November 4, 2010

The chareidi alumnus of Ponovezh Yeshiva sits draped in a collegiate cap and gown alongside a former Supreme Court Justice, the advisor to the Queen of England, two Chemistry Nobel Prize winners and others who have made history in their fields. Each is being honored for their achievements with a doctorate from Bar Ilan University.

“I never planned to make history,” says Rabbi Dr. Chananya Chollak, Founder of Ezer Mizion. “I feel good when others feel good. It all began in 1979. I was just married and my father in law was ill. He was in and out of hospitals during that first year and I got to see what life is like for the ill. I met a dialysis patient who had to pay for ambulette transportation three times a week. He couldn’t afford it but what could he do? Dialysis was his lifeline. I got a few friends together and we outfitted a van with the professional equipment that he needed and we all took turns driving him. There was a young girl hospitalized with a life-threatening disease whose parents were running themselves ragged staying at her bedside. I got a few friends to volunteer shifts to give the parents a break. The original eight volunteers have grown to 11,000.”

There probably is not a single resident of Israel that hasn’t heard about Ezer Mizion and many have family members who have benefited from it at one time or another. The original ambulance has become a fleet of 18 with many volunteers using their own vehicles. The disabled, the elderly all know Ezer Mizion’s phone number and use it regularly to keep their appointments for therapy, treatments, routine medical visits and even an occasional dream trip to the Kosel or to  visit a likewise disabled family member whom they haven’t seen in years. Volunteers deliver meals prepared at Ezer Mizion’s Food Division to family keeping vigil at the hospital bedside of a loved one. Others deliver food baskets to homes of the wheelchair-bound, the cancer patient and the octogenarian desperately trying to maintain his independence. Rabbi Chollak, who lives by the motto See Something Do Something, has undertaken many other projects since the early days of his marriage. Departments dealing with the terror orphan, the speech impaired, the special child, the mentally ill and the cancer patient are just a few of the many that have sprung up like mushrooms, each division professionally run, offering the latest in hi-tech equipment and regular workshops and therapy headed by experts in their field.

Rabbi Chollak tells of a large family whose father was ill. The mother, drowning in her own sorrow, brought her whole family of eleven children just to talk. I gave the oldest child a card with my phone number and told him to call me any time. The four year old whispered in my ear, “Can I have one also? If I hear my father moaning in his sleep, can I call you?” “And do you think she didn’t call? My phone would ring many times in the middle of the night. This little girl was terrified hearing her father’s cries.”

Rabbi Chollak beams with joy when he is reminded of his Persian children. The mother was ill with cancer. We helped them with food, took the children on trips, tried to be a parent to those suffering children. There were no relatives, not even an elderly grandparent or a distant uncle. Less than two months after the mother passed away, the father began experiencing symptoms. In six months he was gone. The Social Service Department had planned to scatter the children among different families. The oldest, a twelve year old girl, came to me: “Could we live with you,” she asked in all innocence. The major burden would fall on my wife but she came through like the dedicated soldier that she is and all four were adopted as part of our family. 

No one envies Rabbi Chollak of his job as Town Major. For years, the municipal authorities have delegated the job of informing the family of the death of a loved one. It must be done and Rabbi Chollak does it- with compassion, with empathy , with love. A tear forms in his eyes as he recalls some of these visits. “Two children were on their way to visit their mother in the hospital. I was asked to meet them there as their mother was no longer among the living. It started at the time of terror attacks in the Gush Dan area. I was asked to help out in informing the families and have been doing it ever since. Having a policeman appear at the door is shocking. I try to give it to them in little pieces.”

Rabbi Chollak sits in his office on the top floor of the giant Ezer Mizion Jacob Fried Building. On the various floors, a vibrant chessed momentum in progress. Dozens of volunteers, division heads and project directors scurry through the halls and thousands of people seeking the organization’s services stream through its corridors. They come from all parts of the country- religious, secular, Ashkenazic, Sephardic. As you enter its portals, you pass the security check manned by a chareidi fellow of Persian extract, one of the four children adopted by Rabbi Chollak and his dedicated wife, Leah, in addition to their own twelve children. Each person is entitled to the full gamut of humanitarian assistance offered by the organization free of charge.

It’s the end of the day and Rabbi Chollak is drained. His eyes are bleary. He had joined a trip as ‘one of the volunteers’. His cell phone rings for the thousandth time that day. “Tomorrow I’ll meet with the head of the department to hear what else can be done. The bleeding in the brain has stopped. That’s a good sign.” he comforts the distraught family member.  The doctorate is just an honorary title. It did not turn him into a medical doctor, even though his medical knowledge is vast. But sometimes one cannot help but wonder if the honorary doctorate is more than honorary.

“What’s your opinion on the divisions between the secular and the chareidi in Israel?” he was asked. “When President Ezer Weizmann inaugurated the Oranit Center for Children with Cancer and Their Families, he said that Ezer Mizion is the bridge between the religious and the secular and he was right. We demonstrate by example that there are no barriers and that the only thing concerning us is that everyone should be healthy. One of the foremost projects is the Bone Marrow Registry. We called on the public to help save a boy in critical condition. In one day no less than 62,300 people came to the centers. Do you see polarity here? Do you see hatred? I see nothing but unity. Nobody gave any thought to differences in ethnic extraction or religious affiliation. Everyone stood quietly in line and registered to be tested as potential donors for patients they didn’t even know.”  When people try to get Rabbi Chollak to talk about division, he talks about unity. When they bring up hatred, he talks about love. His face shines with a gleaming light and it’s impossible to get him to talk about anything negative.

“This should be published. People have to know,” Rabbi Chollak is told. “I am at my office a little after eight in the morning and leave between one and two at night. Our devoted staff doesn’t know the difference between day and night. We have no time for PR. We’re too busy doing.”

Inauguration of New IDF Testing Center

February 16, 2010

In 2005, the IDF and Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry entered an agreement whereby every IDF recruit passes through the Bone Marrow Registry station as part of the induction process and is given the opportunity to join Ezer Mizion’s registry through a simple blood test. It was the hope of Ezer Mizion that soldiers would opt to register for genetic testing as potential donors to help Jewish cancer patients whose only chance of survival is a bone marrow transplant. “In my dreams I saw numerous soldiers joining, but I never believed that the station would become such a center of attraction for so many,” said Dr. Bracha Zisser, Director of Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Donor Registry. And so, to accommodate the unforeseen need, Ezer Mizion’s Blood Sample Collection Station has been newly renovated. IDF Human Resources Director, Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir, IDF Chief Medical Officer, Brig. Gen. Dr. Nachman Esh, International Chairman of Ezer Mizion, Chananya Chollak, and other IDF key personnel converged to inaugurate the new station at Tel HaShomer Induction Base.

“In addition to being an entity that protects the safety of the State of Israel, through its cooperation with Ezer Mizion, the IDF has also become a health protection network for the Jews throughout the world,” added Dr. Bracha Zisser. Dr. Zisser also pointed out that IDF soldiers are actually found to be suitable donors much more frequently than Israeli civilians, because they represent a broad spectrum of the ethnic groups among Jews.

“Ezer Mizion’s remodeled collection station that we are inaugurating today presents us with an opportunity to enlarge the registry and help Jews all over the world  whose lives depend on stem cell transplants,” said Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir during the ceremony. “Every year thousands of people worldwide are diagnosed with diseases that can only be cured with the help of bone marrow transplants, but only about one third of them find a donor through their family members. Everyone can help by donating bone marrow, and through a simple blood test, the right bone marrow can be found for any patient.”

“We are proud of the increase of IDF soldiers donating bone marrow,” said Maj. Gen. Zamir. In the four years since the establishment of the station, almost 120,000 IDF soldiers have joined Ezer Mizion’s Registry. “We train our soldiers to fulfill their military duties and missions at all times, however complex and sensitive they may be, and still remain human. There is no closer or more important bond between one human being and another, between someone who is in need and someone who is able to give than donating bone marrow, and especially when talking about a donation that saves someone’s life,” added Maj. Gen. Zamir.

Cpl. Roy Shogar, a Field Intelligence Corps combat soldier, joined the Registry on the day of his induction. Last July he was contacted by Ezer Mizion because he was found as a matching stem cell donor. He happily went ahead and donated his stem cells that saved the life of a 30 year old cancer patient.

“As they promised, the process of collecting the stem cells didn’t hurt at all,” he said and added that he is waiting impatiently for next year when he will be able to meet the patient who has recovered. “It is an amazing feeling to know that you have the ability to save someone’s life. I recommend that everyone who can should join a stem cell registry and back what is being done to save people’s lives.”







Related Links