Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

As Life from Me Is Infused into You

March 13, 2019

helping-handTo My Dear One

You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but that is what makes everything so much more amazing.

Some time ago, I received the most thrilling phone call, informing me that I was found to be a match for a stem cell donation to someone who needed my cells to live. I was beyond words, in the clouds.

Two years ago, I had received a similar call to save the life of a 23 year old man. But unfortunately, the patient weakened and he was in no condition to undergo the transplant. I had been devastated.  “This cannot be!” I thought to myself.

To my great joy, I received another call and this time it was about you.  Today, I had the opportunity to donate my stem cells to you. For this privilege, I am forever grateful!!!

Throughout this process, I didn’t stop thinking about you for a moment.

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Stem cell transplant: his only chance to survive

I thought all the time: How are you feeling? Are you happy that a matching donor was found for you? Are you optimistic, in spite of the great difficulty involved in such a daunting challenge?

When, occasionally, there was pain or fears at some stage of the process, I immediately thought of you and instantly knew that I had no right to complain, when it was you who are fighting for your life. It had been insanely important to me, and I stubbornly had insisted that they pass on to you and your family that you should not be worried about the donation; I was willing to donate, no matter what would be involved.

To everyone involved, I want to send you tons of “likes” for the ability to accept and deal with this, each in his own way, and to embrace me with a big hug from afar.

I intentionally chose to write to you by hand, so that you could become familiar with at least one personal aspect of me in this long and discreet process.

pr bmr stem cells
Stem cell transplant: saving life after life

I pray and hope that my stem cells will be absorbed in your body in the best possible way and that, with G-d’s help, you should recover and regain your strength so that you will once more stand on your own two feet, raise your head, and, above all, be proud of yourself for emerging victorious, in a big way.

Yours forever,

Your anonymous donor

The letter writer is just one of over three thousand caring Jews who cannot believe their good fortune to have been chosen to save a life. In a year or two, donor and patient will be permitted to meet. Can you imagine the joy as they embrace…brothers in blood, their souls entwined! 

There are close to a million potential donors in Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Registry, the largest Jewish registry in the world. But even the largest is not large enough. Our goal is to expand so that virtually every request is met with the exhilarating words: Yes! We have a match! 

 

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A Small Drink…A Big Thank You

February 20, 2019

It was a normal day. Just like every other Wednesday. Miriam* got the kids off to school, straightened out the house, put in a load of laundry and then left for her volunteer job delivering hot meals to families spending hours at a hospital bedside.  Sometimes it’s an elderly parent who is ill, sometimes it’s a spouse or a small child. For the caretaker, the hours are lonely and filled with angst. Vital decisions have to be made and the caretakers are drained, running on empty.  Their faces light up when Miriam arrives in the Ezer Mizion uniform bearing a hot, nutritious meal spiced with a warm, compassionate smile. Knowing that someone cares makes all the difference. It gives them strength to ‘be there’ for the patient, strength to deal with the myriad of logistics, strength to continue for another day.

 

Miriam’s deliveries went very smoothly today. There was time for a break before heading home to meet her son’s bus. She headed to the hospital cafeteria to purchase a cool, refreshing drink. As she approached the cash register to pay, she was told by a smiling clerk that her drink was already paid for.

 

“Huh? What do you mean? I didn’t pay yet.”

“No but that man over there paid for it.”

 

Completely puzzled, Miriam turned to the man at the nearby table. “Thank you but do you mind telling me why you paid for my drink?”

 

“I see by your uniform that you are from Ezer Mizion. My family and I have been receiving Ezer Mizion meals for weeks.  You have no idea what the meals and warm words of sympathy from your team mean to us. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to express our appreciation and give back a little bit…”

 

Miriam smiled at him and wished him well. Then she walked, no, not walked – she  floated – towards her car. Appreciation can do that to you.  Even before she turned on the ignition, she sent an email to her fellow Ezer Mizion volunteers so that they, too, will fully understand what it is they do each week.

 

Her story will be added to the many other stories like the time a group of people at a hospital emergency room, including a maintenance man working nearby, clapped and clapped as slightly embarrassed volunteer approached. And the story of the man who had just given a generous donation the night before and then found himself in the hospital caring for his young son, now the recipient of the chessed he had donated for. Story after story…meal after meal…Ezer Mizion is always there when it hurts.

 

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.

What Does it Mean?

January 16, 2019

Image result for rav meir baal haness imageDivision of Cancer Support. What does it mean? What does it mean to support a victim of cancer? Some answers are obvious. Helping out with the kids, providing meals, transportation, offering therapy to patient and members of the family that are finding it difficult to cope – all these will certainly be included. And then there’s the not so obvious.

During an illness, a patient experiences a sense of loss. Her very identity as a human being is threatened. No longer is she able to nurture her children, care for her husband leave alone volunteer to help others. She feels like a nonentity. Expressing a desire and having it fulfilled empowers the patient. “I count for something!” It raises her spirits and gives her a reason to live.

Ezer Mizion’s Make-A-Wish program has created ‘special days’ for so many. The destinations are as varied as the people they serve and range from a trip to Meron for an elderly man to a tour of the old neighborhood for a nursing home patient, from ‘policeman for a day’ for a small boy to an elderly housebound mother visiting her cancer-stricken daughter. Many trips with the ill have a happy ending with the patient recovering and ‘paying back’ by registering as a volunteer to help others.

With some, a happy ending is not expected and support during this trying time is all the more needed. Such was the case of a terminally ill, young woman, mother of a large family. Each year, Ezer Mizion takes its 25,000 volunteers on a major trip to pray at various holy gravesites. She so much wanted to be part of it but that was impossible. A whole day? Crowds of people? Out of the question. Yet it was this year, more than any other year, that such a visit was sorely needed. And so a special trip was arranged, just for her. Her own vehicle. Her own itinerary-one kever (grave) only.  She chose R’ Meir Baal HaNes. Much too weak to walk to the grave, Ezer Mizion volunteers carried her on a stretcher. The flow of tears began the moment they reached the grave. Tears of joy at being able to connect in such a deep way to  holiness. The visit came to a close. Her tears ended but those of the volunteers just began when she smiled at them and said, “Now I’m ready.”

 

 

 

You’ll Always Be My Hero

December 12, 2018

pr bmr Russian-American Mirrer avreich“Don’t be silly,” said his wife.” Just because your friend has leukemia, doesn’t mean you do.”

“You’re being absurd,” said his neighbor. “Soon you’ll think that every sneeze is leukemia.”

Alex had been feeling very weak and just made an appointment to see his doctor.

“What you need is a good vacation, not an exhausting two-hour wait in a doctor’s office,” said his daughter.

Alex hoped they were right.  He was only 53. But he had a feeling…Sometimes you just know…

And so the appointment was kept. Blood tests were done. The doctor’s face took on a very serious mien. They were all wrong. And Alex was…right. Leukemia.

 

The family was suddenly thrust into a world that was not their own. A world of chemo… and hospitals…and people dying. Alex had a family. Two children. He was still young. He had plans.  Plans for the future.  But the chemo was not working.

 

“Your best chance is a bone marrow transplant,” his doctor said at a family meeting. Everyone should be tested. Lets pray that we find a genetic match.

The family rallied and each one adjusted his schedule and came to be tested, secretly hoping that he’d be the one to save Alex. But one after the other the answer was negative. No. No. No.  And then there was no one left. That’s when Despair took up permanent residence in their home.

 

“There’s still hope,” the doctor tried to speak encouragingly. “You’re Jewish. Lets try Ezer Mizion. It’s the largest Jewish registry in the world with close to a million possibilities. Hopefully one of those registrants will be a good match.”

 

The family was despondent.  Relatives no and a stranger yes? They didn’t have much hope.

 

They didn’t know about Shlomo. He was a newly married American avreich of 25 learning in the Mirrer Yeshiva. There had been a drive to save the life of a young child and one of the stations was right outside the yeshiva. Many of the bochurim and avreichim registered. Their info remains on the database for decades. And so the computer buzzed and chirped and finally settled on a line beginning with “First Name: Shlomo”. It was a 10 out of 10 match. Very unusual.  Perfect.

 

Nine years later. Alex is 62, living in Holon, a machine programmer for the IDF and doing fine. He and Shlomo met for the first time in Shlomo’s home. It was a major event with the wives of Alex and Shlomo and Shlomo’s parents joining together for a heartfelt seudas hoda’ah.

 

 

“So you’re the hero I’ve been dreaming of meeting!” Alex beamed as he hugged the man he had waited nine years to meet. “Hero?” Shlomo brushed off the accolade. “It was my pleasure, and it wasn’t painful at all — at most, a bit of discomfort during the preliminary injections.”

It was heartwarming to see the two men, from such different worlds — one, a Russian-born 62 year-old, and the other, a Chareidi Kollel scholar and now a  father of six — joined in a unique bond of brotherhood and mutual affection. “Thank you! You’ll always be my hero!” Alex insisted.

Ezer Mizion has saved over 3000 lives, 307 in 2017alone. It is you, our generous contributors around the globe who have sponsored the genetic testing, that have made it possible.  Alex, Shlomo and you. All of us joining together across the ocean in a virtual loving embrace…a Triangle of Life.

Because of You!!!

December 5, 2018

3000

Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish registry in the world, has recently celebrated a major milestone. Because of you, our good friends and supporters, we have passed the THREE-THOUSAND mark of transplants. That’s three thousand  patients whose lives were saved! Three thousand families who remained whole! Three thousand grandmas and grandpas, Mommies and Daddies and so many tiny, frightened children  traveled in one fateful moment from agony to joy,  fueled by the electrifying words: We have a genetic match!

 

Currently there are close to a million registrants on the database. Prior to the birth of Ezer Mizion, the chances of a Jewish person finding a match were approximately 8%. Now 76% of the requests are returned with a positive response.

 

helping-hands w puzzle pieces

But for those in the remaining group, percentages don’t count. All they know is despair, anguish, helplessness. A cure is out there somewhere but no one knows where. And so they continue to wait in hope and prayer for the phone call that will mean Life.  As the registry continues to grow, the probability of finding that elusive match increases.   It is your gifts that enable Ezer Mizion to continue to expand so that someday virtually every single request can be met.

 

Success stories abound. Let’s peak into the home of the Schneider family. The family consists of two parents and their sons, B., O. and P.. When the boys were small, they learned all about ‘taking turns’. Each would wait patiently, or not so patiently, till it was his turn to accompany Abba for the weekly shopping trip. Now as adults, they seem to be also taking turns. The story began three years ago with B., then only nineteen years old, who received an asap call from Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry. He had been found to be a genetic match for a woman with leukemia. Her only chance to survive was a transplant. If a genetic match could be found, her life could be saved. If not, … B. was that match. There was no doubt in his mind that he would do it but he needed moral support and his brother, O., three years his senior, offered to accompany him to the hospital. The stem cell transplant was a success and B. was walking on cloud nine. He had done what many people daydream about: he had saved a life.

 

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Three years later, it was O.’s phone that rang. “It wasn’t the kind of phone call you get every day,” he said. He could hardly believe it. It is not uncommon to have two siblings be a match for a patient. In this case, P. was also a match. But O. recalled their childhood conflicts and played the seniority card.  It worked and now it was B.’s turn to accompany his brother, O., to the hospital. Meanwhile, P., the middle brother, waits for his turn. Just like when he was a little boy, he is sure that it will come.  He looks forward to joining the three thousand others, including his two brothers, who have saved a life…who have saved a world!

 

 

AMIA Leadership Mission Visits Ezer Mizion

November 28, 2018

AMIA gDr. Agustin Yigdal Zbar, president of AMIA, the association of Jewish communal services in Argentina, together with Mr. Diego Emilio Salem, Deputy President of Argentia’s Jewish School Federations, recently visited Israel.  The purpose of their visit was to rally Israeli government funding for a teachers’ training project in the Jewish communities in Argentina and for development of a new Health Services Division, to be housed in the AMIA Jewish Community building in Buenos Aires.

Recognized worldwide for its expertise in many facets of healthcare, Ezer Mizion is comprised of numerous divisions focusing on varied needs of Israel’s population. These range from mental health to geriatrics, from special needs to servicing the seriously ill. Each division is staffed by top professionals in their field whose knowledge encompasses the forefront of technology and therapeutics.AMIA b

The Argentina delegation approached Ezer Mizion to learn more about the organization’s broad range of activities and services to benefit patients and their families.

The overseas guests were hosted by Ezer Mizion International Chairman Rabbi Chananya Chollak,  Dr. Bracha Zisser, Director of Ezer Mizion’s Cancer Patient Support Services and International Bone Marrow Donor Registry, and Rabbi Shimon Rogoway, head of the Medical Counseling and Advocacy Department.AMIA a

The tour included Ezer Mizion’s Oranit, a home away from home for cancer patients and their families. Located in Petach Tikvah, near Israel’s major pediatric oncology centers, it spares families from exhausting daily trips for brief treatment sessions. Oranit provides an escape from the world of chemotherapy and aggressive treatments into a haven of comfort, caring and cheer. In addition to the 22 spacious and comfortable suites of the Andrew and Margaret Rosinger Residential Wing , Oranit boasts a cafeteria, an auditorium, a shul (synagogue), the beautifully landscaped Malka Lazarus playground, the Rinat Bakshi Wildlife Pavilion and an extensive program of recreational therapeutic activities at the Donald Berman Rehabilitation Center. In contrast to hospitals, Oranit is a beautiful, happy place where families can relax, enjoy spending time together and benefit from extensive therapy in handling the nightmare that has entered lives – all in an atmosphere of fun and warmth.AMIA c

The guests were also invited to view Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry which has, to date, saved almost 3,000 lives around the globe. Many of these are small children whose last chance of survival had been a transplant. Requests for genetic matching come in from all parts of the planet including countless from oncology clinics in Argentina.

Plans are underway for the new Health Division to work in partnership with Ezer Mizion in Israel, via the Division Coordinator, Rebbetzin Malka Hamra, for the purpose of providing medical counseling and guidance to the members of the Argentinian Jewish community.AMIA h

The tour continued to the homes of the gedolei Yisrael (Jewish sages), accompanied by Rav Chollak, to obtain their blessing for the delegation’s success. The gedolei Yisrael strongly encouraged the Argentinian representatives, conferring their bllessings for the realization of their plans to benefit the Jewish community in Argentina.

On the Way to Work

November 21, 2018

pr-golden-helping-hand

She looked lonely. Just sitting there on a park bench with her attendant day after day. I stopped for a moment on my way to work. We spoke. A brief chat each day that we both looked forward to. A warm spirit…an intelligent mind imprisoned in an eighty-two year old body. Erica needed more stimulation. Perhaps some board games to keep her mind active. A game partner who would love her and whom she could love.

I reached my office at Ezer Mizion Ashdod Branch. A message from a parent. The volunteer we had paired up for game therapy with her special needs child was not working out. I had had my doubts. Chagit was eager to volunteer and help others but I had not been sure as to how well she could relate to children. Her own childhood had been less than perfect and she was now living with a foster family.  Hmmm. Perhaps…?

It was a perfect match. Chagit visits twice a week armed with games and professional advice from the Game Lending Library Division. a project of Ezer Mizion’s Geriatric Services Dept. Malka Hager Fitness Center. The foster family reports that Chagit is so much more fulfilled. The volunteering with Erica has worked wonders for her, boosting her confidence and self-image. 

As for Erica — she still waits for me on the bench near my workplace and confides in me how she is teaching Chagit how to play…

All the best,

Estie Kenig

Director, Activity Clubs and Services for Children with Special Needs

It’s called the Golden Age. From the vantage point of a younger person, it truly seems golden. No difficulties with toddlers or raising a difficult teen. No problematic boss to please. No mortgage payments to meet. The senior can just sit back and enjoy her accomplishments. But is it really so?

Now let’s change hats and sit on the senior’s rocking chair. No children who need her to kiss the boo-boo away. No shared smile of satisfaction with a daughter when the perfect Yom Tov outfit s finally found. No challenges. No satisfaction in meeting those challenges. The former frantically-busy-mother wonders just what she is doing in the world. Gradually, lacking the stimulus of natural challenge, she forgets how to think, how to problem solve, how to plan. Lacking goals, she is miserable, depressed with no idea how to extricate herself from the dilemma.

Ezer Mizion’s professional staff has many means of counteracting such a situation. A recently added program is Game Therapy. Regular game playing fills in so many empty spaces from companionship to cognitive exercise, adding much to the senior’s day.

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.

 

 

It Was a Hard Week

November 7, 2018

candle

We speak of it as being a ‘battle with cancer’. Like all battles, it requires an army, each division with its special task, each soldier with a mission to which he devotes his heart and soul. Each ‘soldier’s very being becomes linked to those he helps. Help comes in many different forms.  Therapy, living quarters near the clinic, meals, rides. The list goes on and on. This is no 9-5 job where work-related info disappears from the employee or volunteer’s radar as he exits the office.

 

Shopping for his family at the supermarket, Avi, an Ezer Mizion Linked to Life volunteer,  spots a candy bar that little Yossi likes and, with an unmanly sob, he adds it to his cart. (Yossi’s Mommy used to buy him that candy every Sabbath but now Yossi’s Mommy is …) His phone rings and the shopping cart gets shoved into a corner. The store manager will understand. It’s happened before. His wife will surely understand. She had been tearfully praying when he left the house. It’s Moshe. He needs a ride to the hospital.  Now. They just called. His wife has only hours to live. He knew it was coming but when it does…oh,  it’s so hard. He will be needed for much more than the ride. He and his fellow Linked 2 Life members had supported the family in so many ways for months. “Hashem, give him strength,” he fervently prays as he rushes to his car.

 

Many weeks are filled with joy like when a child wins his battle with leukemia and Ezer Mizion’s L2L members drive the family and accumulated paraphernalia home from the hospital.  Soon the child will join his friends in their games, a boy like any other boy. A celebratory parade as they enter the home, each one carrying packages, almost dancing up the stairs. Or when we’re invited to a bris by a young father who had been afraid his baby would be named after him. He’s cured now. The nightmare is over.

 

Other weeks are not so. Like this past one. Ora died this week. She had been part of the lives of so many Linked to Life volunteers in Rechasim and Haifa. Her conversation was never about her pain, her anguish. It was only about how grateful she was to each person for everything done for her family.

“Mere words cannot express my thanks to you for all your help and support. Hashem, in His great compassion and immeasurable love sent me such special agents as yourselves. I bless you all from the bottom of my heart that Hashem should repay you in kind, grant you health, happiness, and success in all your endeavors and nachat from the children. May good and kindness pursue you your entire lives.”

These words were written to Ezer Mizion just a few months ago by Ora a”h.

We rallied. We tried to smooth the way for them, do the little extras to bring some sunshine into their numbered days together. The medical staff fought hard. We fought hard to keep up their spirits. And we lost. Ora is gone.  Ezer Mizion will be there for the family, with the practical, with the emotional.as long as we’re needed. We’ll be their cushion, their pillar.

It was a hard week.  There was a family at Ezer Mizion’s Summer Camp whose mother spent the time in bed on pain killers, under the supervision of medical staff, coming out for meals and some low-key activities. How gratifying to have been the catalyst for fortifying the family as they shared an enjoyable time together… their last. A day before camp ended, the mother was hospitalized. The children stayed on to finish camp. Ezer Mizion was with the children when they were told the bitter news of their mother’s demise. The younger ones hugged each other in a bundle of grief and said: “Ezer Mizion will help Abba and us. They never leave us to be alone!”

 

It was a hard week. A single mother of young children. Another young mother. And a sixteen year old boy with a brain tumor. Four young mothers and one young boy in one week.

 

Hashem, please give all of us at Ezer Mizion strength to be their strength. And Hashem, please hold them tight in Your embrace. Hug them. Comfort them. And wipe away all their tears.

It’s For Real

October 31, 2018

 

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tfillinAll he wanted was to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah with Ima….   But his mother is a cancer patient. It’s bad. The top doctors have given up on finding her a cure… They say it’s just a matter of days. And the boy? He didn’t want to be an orphan before his Bar Mitzvah! His only wish: to have his mother at his side on his Big Day. A wish so small… but so out of reach.

💔 A wish that tears the heart to pieces. A heart that can only be made whole again by someone who has within him a giant heart – big enough to encompass a young boy’s pain.

♥ Moishy B, an Ezer Mizion volunteer is such a man whose heart beats with irrepressible, boundless chessed. Work schedules, personal errands all fell by the wayside as he devoted the day to bringing the boy

to the homes of gedolei Yisrael to get their blessing in honor of the simchah. Touching the greatness of our gedolim, being soothed by their words of compassion helped heal a heart torn asunder.

📖 Together, they traveled to Yerushalayim to daven at the Kotel and even had a tour of the Kotel Tunnels, specially produced by another Ezer Mizion volunteer, our Man of Action – Moishy H..

 

🎁 And to top things off (after all, he’s only a young boy)… a bag of gifts and perks organized by Ezer Mizion’s  warm-hearted Mrs. M..

 

bandaged heart Ezer Mizion ­– we’re there when it hurts. It’s not just a slogan. It’s for real!

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Lost??!!!

October 10, 2018

AirplaneThe logistics were endless. But the trip was important to him. Not that many years ago, before he became a victim of Parkinson’s disease, a trip would have involved not much more than packing a carryon the night before. He didn’t need much. Now things were different. Some members of his family didn’t want him to go. They were afraid. What if something went wrong? Arrangements were made for every detail. They planned and re-planned. He wanted so much to go and so his family rallied and tried to smooth out all the bumps.

 

“Goodbye. Have a safe trip! Goodbye! Goodbye!” They all gathered at the airport to see him off. They weren’t too worried. They had covered everything. “He’ll be fine,” they told themselves.

 

suitcaseThe trip was uneventful. It wasn’t until they disembarked that the bump came. A big one. He checked the monitor and made his way to the appropriate carousel. It was the first time he hadn’t used a carryon. The Parkinson’s made that too difficult.  “It’s the green suitcase with the black stripe,” he told the person helping him. Suitcases flew out. All colors. All sizes. But not his. He made his way to the agent and handed over his baggage papers. He waited while the agent checked his database, made some calls, checked again. “I’m sorry, sir. It’s lost. Please fill out these forms and you will be reimbursed.” He just stood there stunned. Lost? The shirts could be replaced. But his medication! His medication he must have! He only has enough for about half a day. All those pills. So many kinds. How could he ever replace them in a different country?!

 

Airport_Seating_SolutionsSuddenly he felt old. Too old to have made the trip. His family had been right. He never should have gone. He sat down on the nearest chair. Helpless. The ringing of his phone broke into his melancholy thoughts. “Hi. How was the trip? Everything ok?” Nothing was ok. “Wait, Tatte. We’ll work things out. You’ll see. Everything will be fine.”

 

He didn’t see how that could be but, having no emotional energy to even stand up, he remained there on the bench.

 

Meanwhile, his son got to work. One family member was sent to the pharmacy to procure a whole new set of medication, complete with all legal paperwork. Another was given the job to find someone who could take it from Israel to the US. Calls were made and many people suggested calling Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life Network.

 

The following post went up on Linked to Life at 8:32:

Urgent request! An Israeli with Parkinson’s disease flew to NY and lost his suitcase with all his medications! Family desperately looking for someone to bring new meds from Israel to NY.

At 8:35, just three minutes (!!) later: Delivery to New York has been arranged! A giant thank you to all our partners!

 

Still despondent, still sitting on his bench, he answered the ring on his phone. “What??? But how??? You say tomorrow morning???? Really???” With a spring in his step, he rose from the bench feeling ten years younger. It was going to be a great trip!

Like to join Linked to Life? Call Mrs. Miller at 718 853 8400