Posts Tagged ‘lego’

Opennn!

August 18, 2017

pr canc sup legoMaor Cohen is known at Ezer Mizion as the Lego Man. He runs a workshop for kids with cancer and their siblings using lego as a medium enabling them to cope with their fears and anxieties. For those children who are unable to attend the workshops he makes hospital visits.  Always smiling on the outside, one cannot imagine where he finds the strength to continue his mission of chessed. Read on to share his thoughts.

 

 

Adi is at a terrible stage of her development. Terrible for us.

She got to know Dora.

That annoying cartoon character, the bi-lingual Dora with the monkey and the pocketbook who teaches kids translations.

But she asks the kids to scream them out.

And they listen to Dora.

To us – not as much…

This week’s episode focused on the word “open,” which repeated itself  again, and again, and again.

“Abba,” Adi explained to me. “In order to get into the castle, you have to say ‘Open.’”

When she grows up, she’ll realize that it doesn’t always work.

This week, I was called to hospitals on a few different occasions in my capacity as LegoMan.

“We need you,” I was told.

I didn’t want to be needed

I didn’t want there to be young children living in such a horrifying nightmare.

And those are the lucky ones.

Some are no longer living … anywhere.

And sometimes it happens to the nicest families.

About four years ago, I began a job and was a little stressed by the field, which was new to me. I called Asaf who had held the position before me.

He taught, explained, helped, took care of, did everything, as if he was still on the job.

He infused me with confidence.

“Call me whenever you need to,” he said,

Since then, we became friends.

A year ago, one Monday night, I was walking from the room of one child to another’s  in Schneider Children’s Medical Center.

Asaf came over and gave me a hug.

“What are you doing here?” I asked anxiously.

“My son,” he replied. No further words were necessary.

I was shocked.

We went into the room. His little boy,Lior, a baby, just a few months old, lay in the crib. His mother was stroking him.

What does a crib have to do with the Oncology Ward, dear G-d?

Yesterday, Lior ben Asaf, not yet a year and a half old, returned his soul to our Creator.

Lior is no more.

 

Last night, very late, I remembered that I’d promised a set of lego to a girl who’d finished treatments.I don’t know what made me think of it, but suddenly I remembered that the set was in the car. I sent her mother a message and she immediately got back to me, excited, to say that the girl was waiting for it and she’d be so happy.  This morning, I went to be menacheim aveilim, to console Asaf.  Suddenly, a message popped up from someone that the mother was in that same neighborhood.

I wasn’t prepared. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I couldn’t meet her, Not now. Not when I’m going to…

Something inside me pressed me. It will make her daughter so happy.  I called.

I gave her the Lego. She saw where I was coming from.

She took a deep breath.

I went back to Asaf, hugged him, and told him what had just transpired.

I went on my way, looked up to the skies,

and screamed, “Opennnn!!!”

“Open the gates of mercy and health!”

 

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

 

 

 

 

July 26, 2017

pr canc sup lego kids - sLove at first sight, that’s what Maor Cohen felt when he got his first Lego set at age five. “My Mom came home from a visit in Tel Aviv, the ‘big city,’ with a humongous Lego set that must have cost half her monthly salary. You have to understand that back then, in the beginning of the 1980’s, this was no trivial matter. I was so excited that I went to sleep at night hugging the box and the next day I couldn’t wait to come back from preschool and play with it.”

“From that moment, which remains vivid in my heart more than thirty years later, I never stopped developing my hobby. Every birthday present was Lego, and every bit of money I saved up as a child remained in my piggy bank until enough accumulated to buy a new set. I lived at the time in Yavneh and I would ride my bicycle all the way to Rechovot in order to buy Lego and save the cost of a bus ticket.”

Throughout his youth, Cohen never abandoned his hobby. But, of course, as he matured, his focus turned to adult occupations. He served in the army, completed an officers’ course, and today, after finishing his academic studies through the army, is serving as a Major in the Manpower Department.

One day, he recalls, after realizing that he had accumulated in his home an unimaginable amount of Lego, worth hundreds of thousands of shekels, he decided that it was time to pass the pieces on to somebody else who would enjoy them. “I wanted to do something good with the Lego. I turned to my friend, Rabbi Eitan Eckstein, who suggested that I donate the collection to Oranit, Ezer Mizion’s Donald Berman Rehab Center for Support of Cancer Patients and their Families.pr canc sup lego

When I arrived at Oranit, my plans changed. Drastically. “I came there intending to simply donate the Lego and go my merry way. Oranit staff had a different idea. “Suppose you keep the Lego and use it for a club, showing the kids how to use it. You’ve got the skills. You’ve got the know-how. You could accomplish so much. You could put life into those kids (and maybe even adults). Dealing with cancer is frightening. It’s depressing. Having a project like Lego to look forward to would work wonders.”

“They were so convincing that I tried giving the workshop that very day. I recall hesitantly entering the playroom with a few pieces of Lego and three children and we started building. Well, it worked. The kids loved it. Every week, the number of kids increased, and today there are almost thirty children participating.

From that moment five years ago, Maor Cohen has been running the Lego Club in Oranit on a volunteer basis. With time, the project expanded. Others volunteered to assist him. Nir Solomon, who served as Cohen’s brigade commander in the past and is now retired uses his free time help Maor run the club. Four other volunteers also come regularly. Even Maor’s immense collection has its limits but many have been fascinated by the project and offered to help finance new Lego sets. Maor’s brother is one of these. “He was very excited by the idea and asked to donate money so that I could buy the kids Lego as a gift. That would enable them to have Lego not only during the club time but also at home and with them during their treatments.”

Neither sun, nor rain, nor the security situation can deter the energetic Lego man. “The club is now in its fifth year, and it takes place once a week, no matter what. At most, I push it off a day, because I know that the child and his family are waiting for me. In addition to the club, I also make the rounds in the Oncology wards of the hospitals 3-4 times a week and build with the hospitalized children.”pr canc sup lego s-f

Why Lego? “First of all, Lego is great fun. I also think that it is especially important for these kids, because with Lego, there is a feeling of continuity. All that planning gives them a sense of a future.

Dr. Bracha Zisser, Director of Oranit, explains that Oranit was founded in order to relieve patients and their families during the difficult period of treatments. “We operate as a guest house that enables families to sleep over in the Center of the country near treatment centers to avoid the long, grueling hours of traveling. We also organize trips and social activities. In addition, we provide many forms of therapy for both patient and his family. We are constantly expanding our activities in order to enable every person, the patient or his family member, to connect with activities that speak to him.

Maor has got to know Oranit and its staff over the years. “Oranit is an amazing place. They provide support in the most difficult moments, both to children who are sick and to children with a sick parent, and actually to the entire family, in the knowledge that the family is the circle surrounding the child.”

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

To All Lego Lovers Out There…

July 12, 2016

pr canc sup lego dollhouseThe Lego Workshop is an important part of Ezer Mizion’s extensive cancer support services for cancer patients (children and adults) and their families.

The Lego Workshop takes place once a week at Ezer Mizion’s “Oranit” cancer patient guest home that serves as home away for home for cancer patients through periods of outpatient treatment. When patients finish their ambulatory treatments, they return to Oranit where they are hosted. They are left with many hours each day that Ezer Mizion’s fills with creative, therapeutic, recreational activities – including the Lego Workshop – which they enjoy at Ezer Mizion-Oranit’s rehabilitation center. As all the other recreational and therapy activities, the Lego Workshop is offered as an activity outlet for cancer patients and their siblings and parents as well.pr canc sup lego f

The Lego Workshop also travels to hospital wards several times each week, bringing cheer to children who are hospitalized for extended periods.

Alon was 21 when he completed his combat duty and was discharged from the IDF to begin civilian life. That was when he began to feel sick and was shortly after diagnosed with a form of cancer that hits kids only. Because of his condition and the treatment required, he was hospitalized at Dana Children’s hospital, the pediatric hospital of the renowned Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv.pr canc sup lego kids - s

He obviously felt out of place and quite lost with the youngsters around him but had no choice in the matter. That is where he has to be for the kind of treatment that he needs. So he gets s steady stream of visitors and activities all geared for kids: arts and crafts, clowns, entertainers, puppet shows, game room, etc. Besides for not feeling well, Alon feels very out of place.

Alon’s frequent week long hospitalizations for treatment began to become bearable when ezer Mizion’s dedication Lego workshop coordinator, IDF Major Maor Cohen, found out about him and began visiting him every week, helping Alon pass the long, lonely evening hours busy building with Lego.pr canc sup lego- f

Before each hospitalization, Alon would call Maor and let him know. Maor would turn up with another Lego building set to keep Alon occupied and challenged, with his mind off his illness.

Alon especially enjoyed building a Mini Cooper vehicle, which kept him enraptured. That was when his girlfriend commented to Maor that Alon’s occupation with the Lego was ruining their relationship…pr canc sup lego

With a twinkle in his eye, Maor told her that Alon was building a Mini Cooper to take her on a picnic. Shortly after Alon’s hospital release, Maor – true to his word – came to pick Alon and his girlfriend up to take them on a picnic. He chauffeured them in an authentic Mini Cooper that he borrowed from a friend who collects antique cars….

It was truly a picnic they will always remember. We recently received a sponsorship gift from the Shemtob Foundation with which new Lego sets were purchased. Alon was the first patient to get a set, which will tide him over his scheduled hospitalization for surgery and recovery from cancer treatment.pr canc sup lego f-s

Maor took his passion for Lego and developed it into an amazing tradition at Ezer Mizion. In addition to weekly meetings where participants build Lego creations, Lego parties and semi-annual Lego raffles are held as annual highlights at Ezer Mizion for kids with cancer and their families. These events give participants a chance to momentarily step out of their medical nightmare, and put together amazing Lego displays. At these much anticipated events, sick children are awarded huge Lego prizes that are donated by caring sponsors and every family leaves with a standard Lego set.

pr canc sup lego party - f

Generate Strength and Instill Hope: Become a Lego Sponsor!

Join Ezer Mizion in our support activities for cancer patients with a generous sponsorship of Lego sets for our Lego club and Lego prizes for children with cancer.

Become a Lego sponsor and give these children a chance to hold on to the security of a normal childhood. Donations to Ezer Mizion are tax exempt in Israel, USA, Canada, UK and France.

Thank you for your caring and partnership with us through your generous donation.

Donate online and specify LEGO: http://www.ezermizion.org

USA tel: 718-853-8400

Israel tel: 03-614-4573

 

Building the Spirit with Lego Bricks

February 17, 2016

Alon was 21 when he completed his combat duty and was looking forward to beginning civilian life. But it was not to be. He thought he had the flu. A few days in bed… He waited for it to disappear but it just didn’t go away. Then came the diagnosis. Cancer.

It was a cancer that affects kids only. Because of his condition and the treatment required, he was hospitalized at Dana Children’s Hospital, the pediatric hospital of the renowned Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

And so there he was in need of as much support as possible but surrounded by children’s activities. He understood intellectually that the most important issue is to get well but longed for some emotional support along the way. A steady stream of arts and crafts counselors, clowns, entertainers, puppet shows, game room counselors, etc. made its way to his door. This was not what he needed. Besides for not feeling well, Alon felt very out of place.

But he had no choice in the matter. That is where he had to be for the kind of treatment that he needs.

All that was before Ezer Mizion became aware of the situation. Ezer Mizion’s dedicated Lego Workshop coordinator, Major Maor Cohen, immediately made his way between the clowns and coloring books and introduced to Alon to the joys of Lego. The long, lonely hours of his frequent week-long hospitalizations were now filled with challenge, something to take his mind off his fears and worries. Before each hospitalization, Alon would call Maor and let him know and Maor would turn up with another Lego building set.

Alon especially enjoyed building a Mini Cooper vehicle, which kept him enraptured. That was when his close friend commented to Maor that Alon’s occupation with the Lego was ruining their relationship…

With a twinkle in his eye, Maor quipped that Alon was building a Mini Cooper to take us all on a picnic. Shortly after Alon’s hospital release, Maor – true to his word – came to pick up Alon and his friend to take them on a picnic. He chauffeured them in an authentic Mini Cooper that he borrowed from a friend who collects antique cars….How’s that for dedication?

Ezer Mizion recently received a sponsorship gift from the Shemtob Foundation with which new Lego sets were purchased. Alon was the first patient to receive a set, which will hopefully tide him over his scheduled hospitalization for surgery and recovery from cancer.

The Lego Workshop is an important part of Ezer Mizion’s Donald Berman Rehab Center’s extensive cancer support services for cancer patients (children and adults) and their families.

The Lego Workshop takes place once a week at Ezer Mizion’s “Oranit” Donald Berman Rehab Center that serves as ‘home away for home’ for cancer patients through periods of outpatient treatment. When patients finish their morning treatments, they return ‘home’ to Oranit where they are hosted. The many hours each day are filled by Ezer Mizion’s with creative, therapeutic, recreational activities – including the Lego Workshop.

As all the other recreational and therapy activities, the Lego Workshop is offered as an activity outlet for cancer patients and their siblings and parents as well.

The Lego Workshop also travels to hospital wards several times each week, bringing cheer to children who are hospitalized for extended periods.

Generate Strength and Instill Hope: Become a Lego Sponsor!

For further info: www.ezermizion.org                               718 853 8400

 

 

The Lego Man

December 10, 2014

Three years ago, when I came to Ezer Mizion’s Oranit Cancer Support Center, they explained to me that I would be working with children who have cancer and with children whose parents have cancer. All I came for was to donate some LEGO but the angels at Ezer Mizion made me see how much more I could do. I was a little frightened at the thought. After all, the word ‘cancer’ is unmentionable and I’d be diving right in.

But I know what it means to be a child with a sick parent.

Ever since I was 5 years old, my father, may he live and be well, has been a heart patient. For almost thirty years, he has been fighting a variety of illnesses – on chagim, Shabbat, and ordinary weekdays. I never had the security of knowing that just because I saw my father at breakfast would he be there at supper.
But he did his absolute best, and even more, to see to it that I had a good childhood. Even at the peak of his illness, it was important to him to be a loving, relevant, and active father.

My mother fought like a lioness to make sure that I, her youngest, would not feel deprived. But the hospital visits and constant, pervasive fear did their part and without question, had an effect on me. Through the years, Abba got better and then was sick again, and that cycle kept repeating itself. As a family, we learned to live with this reality.

The real burden fell on my mother, who would not give up. Her concern that all of us would continue to live our lives in an emotionally healthy manner became her life mission. Thank G-d, my father continues onward. There are better days and there are worse.

The LEGO Club meets frequently. When I am at the LEGO club with children whose parents are sick, I melt with compassion. I remember myself in their shoes – the fears, the concerns, the feeling that the most prominent figure in your life is fighting for his life…and may lose the battle. It isn’t easy. Each time I relate to a child whose parent died, the challenge intensifies, and with it, the commitment that as long as a child is in my LEGO club, I will make sure he gets what this club was established for – a chance to hold on to the security of normal world of childhood.
Special events are held throughout the year. Before Rosh Hashona, we held a “LEGO in Honey” event at Oranit – a LEGO party for children whose parent has cancer. About thirty families stepped out of their medical nightmare for the moment, sat around tables heaped with LEGO, and built a variegated display of creations. Three lucky winners left with huge LEGO sets and everyone got a standard family LEGO set as a gift.

All this was done thanks to you – you, who contributed money and became a partner with us at Ezer Mizion’s Donald Berman Rehabilitation Center, making this moving event possible.

During the party, I stood at the side for a moment and returned in my mind to those days when Ima and I would come home from the hospital after visiting Abba. I would go into my room, sit on the floor, open the LEGO drawer, and immerse myself in my own world, building whimsical creations and dreaming of the days when everything would be okay.
Thank you for enabling me to walk down this path each time anew, reliving my own childhood feelings, empathizing with the kids around me and giving, giving , giving enabling them to better cope with the monster named Cancer that has taken over their lives.

For further info: http://www.ezermizion.org

Mazel Tov to Mr. Lego

December 25, 2013

Mazel Tov to Mr. Lego

When Major Maor Cohen drags in his Lego suitcase, the children’s eyes instantly light up. “The Lego Man is here!” For three years now, he has been roving from hospital to hospital. When he gets there, he gathers the children around him – many of them groaning from post-operative pains, knocked out by chemotherapy, or drained by illness – and builds Lego models with them.
(From “Yisrael Hayom,” Yaakov Levitam, Dec. 2013)

Cohen (33) is a resident of Givatayim,. Two weeks ago, he and his wife finally had their first child, a girl. “I love kids. Lego was my way of connecting to them. I’ve been a lego fan since I was four. My aunt brought me an airport kit as a gift. I took the kit into my bed – and haven’t left the Lego alone since.”

To date, he has built more than 3,000 models. “I’ll always be a kid. I love sitting in the middle of a circle of kids and joining their world.”
Maor leads a two-hour workshop once a week at Ezer Mizion’s Donald Berman Rehabilitation Center for Cancer Patients. At first, only three children hesitantly showed up, but slowly but surely, the workshop’s reputation spread. Today, 30 enthusiastic participants, ages three and a half to teenagers, attend regularly. The Lego kits are funded by donations. “These are two weekly hours of refuge from reality. The children wait all week for it. The most popular model for these kids who are fighting a major battle for their lives is the knights’ castle, and in my opinion, that says a lot.”
Cohen is especially moved when a child gets out of bed and comes to the workshop after a long period of dejection. “Lego seems to rouse renewed hope. There was one boy who woke up from brain surgery and the first thing he asked was, “Where is the Lego man? He promised he would come.” His father called me excitedly and within 40 minutes I was at his bedside (pauses, choked up). “There was another child who had to fast for many hours before a critical test. He was also swollen from huge doses of steroids. His parents were afraid he wouldn’t be able to take the discomfort and the hunger. But when I came, he was swept up in the Lego creations with me and did not notice the passing time. Everyone around cried from joy.”
So this toy also has a healing element?
“There are some children whose illness affects their motor abilities, but they won’t give up. They sit and work on a model for weeks at a time. Sadly, there are some who don’t make it, in spite of their courageous battle. Some time ago, a very sweet little boy died. I still have a photograph of him with the model he built at the workshop. There was a girl who passed away, and her mother asked me to finish off the model she did not live to complete. Another mother said to me: “Cancer tore our family apart – and the Lego put it back together again.”
Cohen’s great dream is to build his own children a big castle in the yard, made completely of Lego, at least 40,000 pieces. “I’m looking forward to bringing my new daughter into the world of Lego. Do you think 2 weeks is too early to start??

Mazel Tov, Major Maor Cohen! May your new daughter absorb your values and someday create with you a Cohen & Cohen Lego Team, bringing joy to those who need it most.

To share in the grins of kids with cancer when they return to Ezer Mizion after a grueling chemo treatment, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/60145637@N06/sets/72157626565796853/

For further info: http://www.ezermizion.org