Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Because of You!!!

December 5, 2018

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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.

 

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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!

 

 

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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

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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

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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

 

 

 

Alzheimer’s: Color Me Black.

September 12, 2018

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Alzheimer’s: The disease that destroys childhood memories

Malka* was enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee. Lunches were made for tomorrow. The laundry was in the drier and Malka’s father had gone to bed early. She was about to reach for something to read, a rare luxury, when the bell rang. It was after eleven. Who could that be? Coffee forgotten, Malka’s heart began to flutter. She pressed the intercom button and, her voice trembling, asked who it was. The voice was hesitant,   a bit embarrassed. A neighbor was just coming home from evening prayers and…She ran to open the door and there stood the neighbor with her father, dressed in pajamas, barefoot and looking very confused.

Alzheimer’s. It colored every moment of Malka’s days. Black.  This was her father. The one who had taught her to ride a two-wheeler, cheering loudly as she wobbled down the driveway. The one who held her arm tightly, offering emotional support ‘forever’, as he walked her down the aisle toward married life.

He had always been there for her. His soothing words and practical suggestions had made all the difference. Her father. Ten feet tall and all-powerful.

Now there he stood. A pitiful, old man. Helpless.    Her tower of strength had crumbled.

Truth be told, this wasn’t the first time. He seemed to be in his own world.   He often referred to her as ‘Mommy’ and her children by the names of his siblings. He would offer to help her scrub the laundry on the washboard or shovel the coal into the furnace.

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Alzheimer’s: Can this really be my soft-spoken kindly father?!

The worst was when he shouted at her or her husband or the kids in such a mean, sarcastic way. He had never been like that. It hurt. Oh, how it hurt. She knew it was the disease, not really him. But each word was excruciatingly painful.  She tried to help him but felt so inadequate.

Malka’s case is typical. There are 130,000 cases of Alzheimer’s in Israel, many of them being cared for by  relatives. Relatives who are in desperate need of help.

As part of the goal to provide suitable responses for dementia-patient caregiving relatives, Ezer Mizion Tzipporah Fried Alzheimer Family Support Center runs support groups and workshops.

In these groups, the women have an opportunity to learn about the disease and ways of coping with it, drawing from the experience of the group facilitators and the other women in the group. The group serves as a “safe” place for engaging in discussion and bringing up the many emotional challenges that come with caring for the ill relative. At times, it is the only setting where caregivers feel secure and are able to speak openly about their struggles.

In addition, as part of the support system for caregiving relatives, music, physical fitness, art, and therapeutic gardening workshops are available, with a double goal: To provide women with a pleasurable experience and a hiatus from the draining role as caregiver for their sick relative and to offer simple, easy-to-implement tools for working with the patient at home.

Our goal?  To provide a supportive response and personal relief for women caring for a relative with dementia, empowering them as caregivers and strengthening the sense of self-worth in this excruciatingly difficult period of their lives.

 

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.

 

When Their World Came Crashing Down

August 29, 2018

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Roni and Bar’ was written on the wedding invitations. The marriage was to take place in September. That was before. Before a leukemia sabotaged their every dream.

Roni had discovered small lesions on her face. Her neck muscles cramped, glands in her neck swelled, as did the roof of her mouth, and blue marks appeared on her legs. It didn’t look good and it was not long before the diagnosis was confirmed.

“This can’t be,” cried Bar. “Not now! Not when we were about to marry. Everything was ready. The invitations. The hall. The band. ”

“Don’t give up hope,” the doctor said. “A stem cell transplant can cure her, Bar. Your bride will be as good as new. We just need a genetic match for her. Someone of Yemenite or Moroccan extraction. But we need it fast. Within a month. if not, …”

And so the search is on. Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish bone marrow registry in the world, has close to a million registrants.  So far no one in the registry is a match but a drive was held in Israel and over 16,000 converged upon 36 stations throughout the country. Drives are being held in California and Florida and hundreds of swab test kits are being sent out by the NY office. Labs will be working overtime to complete the testing…before it’s too late.

Meet Roni. Share her pain.

“Someone will match. I’m sure of it! It has to happen!” Bar is optimistic and hoping to print new wedding invitations soon.

Each new registrant will be tested. The cost of each test is $50. Each registrant will remain on the database for decades, ready to save the life of any cancer patient in communities around the globe.

Moving Forward: Conquering Mental Illness

August 29, 2018

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Mental illness can be cured.

Mental illness, as the name implies, is an illness. And, again, as the name implies, it can be cured. But, unlike strep throat, a mental health patient harbors fears of facing the cure and rejoining the world. His rehabilitation can be greatly delayed due to his inability to take those frightening steps.

Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Program, with its versatile services, includes an annual retreat. The much anticipated retreat creates an atmosphere that can enable that which cannot take place in a standard client/patient setting. The retreat has the potential to empower the patient, connect him to normative experiences, create encounters with a broad group of equals as well as to recharge batteries for the continued process of rehabilitation and provide a hiatus for the rest of the family who is invited to join.

The retreat takes place once a year with full hotel accommodations. Activities include trips, swimming, boating, entertainment/performances, jeeping, workshops and skits. The patients are encouraged to participate in the planning of the retreat, a rehabilitation tool in itself.

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Leading the congregation in prayer: a giant leap forward in combating his mental illness

The informal social interaction that comes about in this safe, accepting environment can have far-reaching effects. At the retreat, the participants experience routine life alongside their special activities. There are daily prayers with the retreat leader. A few days after the retreat, the social worker got a call from the father of one of the participants. In a tremulous voice, he shared with us that his son had gone to daven (pray) in shul (synagogue) and had stepped up to the amud (lectern) to lead the Minchah (afternoon services) as chazzan (cantor). The elated father could not believe that his son, who was so withdrawn, had found the gumption to lead the congregation in prayers. “How did it happen?” he asked the social worker. “Your son served as chazzan (cantor) for Minchah at the retreat,” the social worker answered simply.

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Working at the Rehabilitative Kitchen – a giant leap forward in conquering mental illness

Devorah* who receives coaching services at home to promote her household functioning was doing fine in running her home. The professional staff felt she was ready to begin to join the workforce obtaining a job at Ezer Mizion’s rehab kitchen. She would be fully supported by a staff mentor, working in a controlled environment but her fears did not allow her to take the step.    At the retreat, she met other women like her, raising children as she was and, nevertheless, going out to work at the Mental Health Division’s rehabilitative kitchen. A normative conversation with women like her accomplished what thousands of words from the coach and the professional staff hadn’t. Needless to say, today she works at a bakery and her rehabilitation process has taken a giant step forward.

Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Division provides many services including individual coaching in the client’s home to improve personal functioning, mentoring in the public expanse to enhance client’s interpersonal interactions.

Rehabilitation is enhanced by a range of occupational rehabilitation services, in keeping with the client’s functional level, with the goal of sharpening occupational skills. Included is mentoring in the open job market. Musicians can take advantage of the rehabilitation program for musicians, geared to enhancing their occupational skills while professionalizing their skills in diverse musical subjects.

Group social activities, including a variety of clubs and rehabilitative activities are available with the overall goal of improving social skills.

The division is constantly growing to provide both rehabilitation for its clients and support for family members in this frightening nightmare that has taken over their lives.

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.

CP Can’t Stop Me!

July 25, 2018

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

Shalom dear readers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

Menachem Weiss