Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

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’?

 

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.

The Kakoon Family- A Valued Ezer Mizion Partner

May 3, 2017

Kakoon Family ok to use - Dassy- fGiving. It’s the wheel that makes the world go around. Some people have discovered its joys and thrive on ‘being there’ for a friend or neighbor with a problem. The Kakoons are such a family.  Avrohom Kakoon acts as a chazzan (cantor) and spiritual leader at his shul (synagogue). In his spare time, he also volunteers as an emergency respondent for Hatzalah. His wife, Rina, volunteers as a doula, coaches new mothers and young families in managing their home and in parenting, and also cooks and bakes for families of women after birth. As infants, their seven children imbibed the satisfaction that accompanies giving and the sense of responsibility for those less fortunate.  Helping families after birth, running a used clothing center, mentoring youngsters in the community. Driving an ambulance, heading a branch of United Hatzalah, helping out families in the community who are undergoing crises, activity clubs for young people in the community.  The Kakoon siblings are involved in all of these. How can they not be? It was the ambience in the home they grew up in.

When the family discovered Ezer Mizion, they clicked with the organization like a magnet to a paper clip. An entity that does not recognize 9-5 hours, whose founder routinely gives out his private cell phone number to recently orphaned children and tells them to call anytime, whose teenage volunteers vie with their friends to obtain an unpaid position in Ezer Mizion’s summer camp for special kids… Ezer Mizion was the perfect partner for the Kakoons.

They helped out in any way they could. One has even undertaken to head the Ezer Mizion’s Modi’in Linked to Life   group and another its counterpart in the Migdal HaEmek area. Linked to Life is a What’s App Center which connects Jews throughout Israel and even Europe, the US and Canada in order to provide for the needs of people around the globe. A surgical device is needed and can’t wait for regular mail. A man from Eretz Yisroel forgot his vital medication and realizes it only when he a several thousand feet in the air, on his way to California. A wheelchair-bound young man living in the North would like to spend Pesach with his family in Jerusalem and needs a ride in a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. Hundreds of people like this are constantly being helped by heads of groups like the Kakoons and the volunteers who drop what they are doing at a buzz of their phone and race out to help a fellow Jew.

Avrohom and Rina planted strong seeds which continue to flourish into the next generation. Last summer vacation, while her peers were having fun in the pool and park, Avivah, a granddaughter, discovered another kind of fun. She gathered a group of friends and set up a refreshment stand. The girls popped popcorn and prepared gallons of drinks to sell to passersby. The money? It was donated to Ezer Mizion’s Cancer Support Division to help sick children, of course. Ezer Mizion welcomes Avivah as its newest volunteer and awaits her latest ideas to help those less fortunate than herself. Congratulations, Avivah! You have discovered the much sought after key to happiness.

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

The See-Saw Remains on Up

April 26, 2017

DNA 3Everyone dreams about it. Very few ever have the opportunity. I was one of those very few. True, I didn’t jump into the ocean and save a child from drowning or dash into a burning building to save a baby but I did save a life. A forty-year-old cancer patient had only one chance to survive—a bone marrow transplant. A genetic match is vital for success and I was that genetic match. An Ezer Mizion staff member asked me if I would do it. Would I do it???! How could I not do it?! How could I live the rest of my life knowing that because of a little discomfort, a little inconvenience, a young woman was prevented from living the rest of hers?

Thus said N.D. a law student residing in Israel.

Plans were made. Appointments were set. I was given a run-down of what to expect and all was set to go until I received the phone call. Ezer Mizion thanked me for agreeing to donate but was cancelling the procedure. The woman’s condition had taken a turn for the worse and she was not in any condition to receive the transplant.

I was crushed. By this time, I was identifying with this anonymous person as if she were a close member of my family. And she would be. It would be my blood that would be coursing through her veins. And now it was not to be. I pictured her lying on her death bed with her family gathered around her. I wanted to be there with them. I wanted to hug her and tell her I’m so sorry. Instead I just stood there, still holding the phone. Numb. I read the obituaries for weeks after that, wondering at each entry, “Was that her?”

I was very involved in my university courses at the law school. It was in the middle of major exams when Ezer Mizion appeared once again on my display screen. “Your patient’s condition has improved. She can handle a transplant now but it must be done immediately. Are you available to begin the prep?”

The test I had studied all night for. The notes I had just copied for next week’s test. Grades. Reports… All meaningless now. All I wanted to know is what time I should be there.

My mother was even more excited than I was. She had had cancer at a similar age and is healthy now. She felt that by her daughter donating marrow, she would have a chance to ‘give back’.

At Schneider’s Hospital, I was told I would need 4-5 days of injections to increase the stem cells in my body. On the big day, my blood would be drawn, the stem cells separated from it, then returned to my body. This would continue all day until enough stem cells had accumulated. Then the little ‘bag of life’ would be infused into my ‘blood-sister’. We would be in the same hospital but we would not meet due to international law. Oh, how I longed to hold her hand during the procedure! But I would have to be patient. If all goes well, we’d be allowed to meet in two years.

I can’t deny that the injection period was uncomfortable but every ache was erased   when I watched them bring that little bag to its destination.

I was told that we were a 100% DNA match. Very unusual, they said. Now I lie in bed wondering who my DNA twin is. An unknown cousin perhaps? In one year, I am allowed to ask about her condition. Just knowing that she is healthy will be enough for me. And, if she is willing, in two years, I may meet the person who is alive because I didn’t say no.

Hospital Rounds

April 19, 2017

helping handssI was trying. Friends and relatives were also helping. The situation was beyond hopeless and I was helpless to keep things together.   I had three children in three separate hospitals, located in various parts of the country. One was in a mental hospital, two in medical hospitals. Can you imagine the anguish, the sights I witnessed daily? The despair when I had to leave one to visit another. The tiny bewildered faces at the window at home watching Mommy leave…again. The exhaustion- both physical and emotional. The frustration when twenty-four hours were far from enough in each day. The astronomical expenses incurred on top of less money coming in.

A friend gave me a number to call. “Perhaps these people would be able to get you a ride once in awhile,” she suggested. I was skeptical. “Why would anyone outside of my immediate circle want to help?” I wondered. But I was desperate and thought I would give it a try. Even one ride would be something. Well, that number enabled me to enter a world I never realized existed. A world where complete strangers really cared and gave up their time and energy to help. It was the number to Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life, a What’s App program connecting people in Israel and even around the world.

A friendly, sensitive operator answered and said she would pass on the message. I thought that would be the end of it and was surprised to be contacted almost immediately. It was a short Friday and I needed to visit all three children. “Perhaps he could drive me to the first one,” I timidly asked. Well, Yossie drove me to the first one, came back to pick me up and drive me to the second, returned to drive me to the third where I would be staying for Shabbos, delivered a car-full of delicious Shabbos food to my home, food that my family had not seen in weeks, plus Shabbos food for me at the hospital. Yossie and his family continued to help. It was only later that I found out that he had made a bris for his grandson during that period and his help was certainly needed at home. Yet he and his family rallied to help me, a person they had just met.

More volunteers came after Shabbos- some to do homework with the kids, some to help with housework, some to take the kids out to buy much needed school supplies (with ice cream afterwards for a treat). The food continued to come daily, delivered by people who really understood. For rides, all I needed to do was dial the number and a driver would materialize at my doorstep, always a person whose caring could only be matched by that of the next one.

Ezer Mizion was my family’s savior. We never could have made it through that period without them.

Linked to Life…We’re all connected!

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

 

 

 

 

Watching the Grandchildren Grow Up…Together: A DNA Success Story

April 5, 2017

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How does one say ‘Thank You’ for saving a life?!

her early sixties, Chava was a young grandmother to seven grandchildren. She was looking forward to many milestones in the future until she discovered that her future was very uncertain indeed. Twelve years ago, she had been diagnosed with lymphoma. A self-transplant of stem cells resulted in a cure and the nightmare seemed to be over until several years later the disease returned.  Would there be a cure this time? Only if a transplant can be performed using the stem cells of a genetically matching donor. The procedure was not difficult but finding this mysterious donor whose DNA corresponded to hers seemed to be nothing short of miraculous. He could be any place where Jews of her ethnic group have settled…South America, Canada, US, Australia, Europe. Anywhere. The first step was to contact Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish registry in the world with its database of over 800,000 potential donors.  And, lo and behold, there he was, right there in Israel.

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Will a life saving DNA match be found?

Meir Pulver (43) spends his days protecting Israel’s population. He is Chief Superintendent of Israel’s Police Force. But that was not enough for this caring father of three. He wanted to do more. When he came across a request to join Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry, he didn’t hesitate. An opportunity to save a life? Of course. Who would not want to join? It would just take a little bit of his time. And so a few minutes filling out paperwork, a painless cheek swab and he was on his way.  Little did he realize that in only a short while, he would receive the momentous phone call: You have a chance to save a life!

There was further testing. In one home in Israel the air was electric. Would Meir truly be able to save a Jewish life? And in the other home, tensions ran high. Would a matching donor ever be found? And then the phone rang. In two homes. Almost simultaneously. Yes! Yes! An excellent DNA match.

Now things began to move quickly and it was not long before Meir’s cells were circulating in Chava’s veins. “Two days before my birthday, I found out that the stem cell donation I’d received had been accepted and my body had started producing its own cells,” she relates. “I felt as if I was reborn.” Chava’s husband is thrilled to have his wife back once again healthy and in great spirits after the very agonizing period they both went through. Together they look forward to watching their grandchildren grow up.  Meir’s father had recently passed away and he felt doubly blessed at being able to both save a life and provide merit for his father’s soul during the first year of mourning.

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Ezer Mizion: Where cancer is being eradicated- one life at a time

International law does not allow donor and recipient to meet until after one year and so the two families waited, counting the days and yearning to express themselves. The meeting took place a few weeks ago in the Ezer Mizion Cancer Support Building. Chava’s family gathered and began watching the door. Soon it opened. The two groups were drawn to each other like magnets. How could it be otherwise when the blood of one flows through the other. “We met an amazing person. A humble, noble young man,” said Chava’s family.

Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry was established about 20 years ago  and today, includes 841,356 potential donors. Thanks to the Registry, 2,350 lifesaving transplants have already taken place. We’re one family with Jews around the world contributing funds to do the DNA testing, enabling every person to be a partner in saving human lives. This is our essence – each Jew responsible for his neighbor.

Ezer Mizion Partners with Chemdat Hadarom for Special-Needs Children

March 9, 2017

 

pr special sun‘Each child is born with its unique value. It’s up to society to ensure that his development enables him to succeed to the limits of his potential.’ Thus spoke Naftali Bennet, Minister of Education in Israel at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Master’s Program at Chemdat Hadarom. The college has proven its goals as it trains its students to reach deep inside each child and help him reach the heights of his G-d-given abilities. At Chemdat Hadorom, special needs children are very special indeed.

And that is why the college has annually loaned out its attractive, spacious campus to Ezer Mizion’s Special Children Division to use for its Summer Camp. A special child works hard to gain each new level but the long summer break can destroy much of his gains. Ezer Mizion’s devoted staff makes sure that this does not happen. Each child is assigned his own personal counselor who devotes himself 24/7 to his charge. The counselors receive no financial remuneration yet they vie with their friends to obtain the coveted position.   Their salary comes in the form of an “I wuv you!” from a child who can barely speak. It comes in the form of the grins of his siblings on visiting day after having had a real summer vacation , perhaps for the first time in their lives, with a mother who was able to do the simple things with them, a bedtime story, a trip to the playground, a playdate with a friend…things that most children take for granted. It comes in the form of a marvelous of satisfaction at having made a real difference to a family dealing with a difficult situation day in and day out. The camp activities, geared especially for each child, are so terrific that many a younger sibling has been known to say, “ I wish I could go to the Ezer Mizion camp.”

Chemdat Hadorom shares the values and goals for the special child with Ezer Mizion and encourages its students to emulate the positive ambience pervading the Ezer Mizion summer experience. Each year it has offered its spacious campus as a venue for the camp. As the college grows and flourishes, Ezer Mizion looks forward to this productive collaboration growing and flourishing as well!

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

 

 

 

 

Saving Lives on the Green

December 14, 2016

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Simmie Chiger and Herman Weiss, the guys that made it happen

Caesaria Golf Course in Israel changes its face every Thanksgiving weekend. A Peter Dye course while remaining enjoyable to the average golfer, it poses an invigorating challenge to the best of players. On each Thanksgiving weekend, however, the challenges consist of so much more than hills and handicaps. Each player enters the course with a sense of purpose. He is there to help save lives. Every stroke is a strike against cancer.

 

The event benefits Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry which has saved the lives of over 2000 Jews around the globe whose sole chance of survival had been a transplant. A ‘Hole-in-One’ Donor Pool has been created whereby all proceeds of the annual golf event are earmarked for genetic testing for a specific block of potential donors. The committee heads are notified each time a transplant of stem cells by a donor, whose genetic testing was funded by the Pool, takes place. The notification begins with the electrifying words: You have saved a life. To date,16 lives have been saved by the Hole-in-One pool since its inception seven years ago. As if to encourage this year’s participants, three of those sixteen transplants took place in October of 2016.

 

golf-israel-2016-carts-w-logos-15304448_755096737976598_7143135351909858764_oRan Saher, CEO of Maccabi Healthcare excitedly informs all around him, “Today wasn’t only about winning. It was about saving lives! Says Sheldon Shein, Executve Chairman of Hennig Diamonds: Playing in the Ezer Mizion tournament makes you think. You realize that there’s a lot bigger things in life than getting the ball in the hole. By joining the tournament, we can accomplish a ‘hole’ lot. Jackie Mukmelm, CEO and President of MAN Properties, “Just imagine a person who has given up hope and thinks that he will soon be leaving his family forever. Then one day, he receives a phone call   that he never thought he would get. It’s Ezer Mizion and they found a DNA match. He’s going to live! Wow! And to think that we, with our playing here today, accomplished that!

 

Thanks to all of you- those residing in Israel and those who visited Israel from across the ocean- for participating. We look forward to your joining us next year on November 20th, 2017.

 

Congratulations to our 2016 winners.

First Place: Stephane Benguigui, David Dadi, David Fitoussi, Jonathon Ohayon

Second Place: Mark Joffee, Saul Katzman, Neil Rubinstein, David Turner

Third Place: Elizur Agus, Eytan Bar-Chama, Jack Garih, Zev Weissberg

Most Honest Team: Ari Gruenspecht, Aaron Miller, Daniel Rubel, Simmy Zimbalist

 

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

 

 

Who Is the Giver?

December 7, 2016

pr-amb-hi-res-img_6381It wasn’t easy. Nothing is ever easy for this child. Avi* was born with cerebral palsy and suffers from other issues also. His life is complicated, to say the least. Avi had an appointment at the clinic and I was the Ezer Mizion driver assigned to take him. Another child would simply hop into the family car and buckle himself up. But not Avi. He needs to be transported with an Ezer Mizion vehicle especially outfitted for the disabled. He was strapped into an adjustable wheelchair with back support to counteract his spasms and prevent his accidentally flying out of the chair, certainly a dangerous situation in a moving vehicle. I positioned him facing backwards so that the inertia of a short stop will be absorbed by the sturdy back of the seat, not the much weaker seat belt. More minor adjustments. I did my best to provide a comfortable, safe ride for this child whose condition makes him dependent on others to provide for his every need. Or so I thought. It was only moments later that I discovered how much he has achieved on his own and is able to give to others.

 

He was accompanied by his mother who, understandably, has a difficult life. In addition to the usual household tasks of every mother, it is she who must see to his feeding, his dressing, his personal care. It is she who must regulate his activities providing the balance between the satisfaction of accomplishments and the frustration that accompanies a goal too difficult to meet. Avi’s needs – and there are so many – color her every moment. And so it is no surprise that a minor difficulty can sometimes be just too much to handle. Today it was a head cold. She hadn’t been feeling well yesterday. The head cold and fever had kept her up most of the night. She sat on the ambulance bench near her son bemoaning her plight. Before I could respond with some soothing words, her son offered his own brand of encouragement. Speaking is so difficult for him but he exerted himself to the maximum, straining his muscles to enunciate the syllables properly:

Eeee-mmmmmmmmmmmmm-a

Evvvvvv-errrrrrrrrrrrry thinnnnnnnnnnnng is frrrrrrrrrrrrrrom Hashem.

We jjjjjjjjjjjjjjust have tttttttttttttto accept wwwwwwwwwwwwith lovvvvvvvvvvvve.

 

I had to pull over. I was crying too hard to drive. Later I tried to express to his mother how much he had given me, how much he had touched my soul. And to think only a few short moments ago, with my feeble attempts toward his comfort and safety, I had considered myself the giver.

 

 

Shmuel Strauss is a Certified IDF Medic, EMT, Ambulance Driver with over 25 years experience in the field. For the past four years, he has been based at the Ezer Mizion main office in Bnei Brak.

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