A full night’s sleep is a rare luxury for Rav Chananya Chollak, founder of Ezer Mizion. Those that need him are told that they can call anytime and they do. It is not unusual for his phone to ring at 3:00 A.M. Rav Chollak hears a panicky voice of a son, whose father is terminally ill and on oxygen. “The tank is almost empty! What should I do?!” Rav Chollak’s soothing, caring voice calms the son. Another tank arrives almost immediately. Rav Chollak does not return to his bed until he is certain that it has come, is set up and the father is doing well. His phone remains at his bedside, ready for the next opportunity to help another Jew. Continue reading Behind the Scenes at Ezer Mizion with its Founder, Chananya Chollak – A Three Part Series
A man grows older. Sometimes parts of his body do not work as well as when he was young. Does that mean his inner feelings lessen? His wishes? His longings?
Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan Gibraltar, a native of Kovno was just 12 years old when World War II broke out. He endured all the horrors of the Holocaust, suffering illness and hunger and doing forced labor under severe conditions. Together with his brother, he carried their father until the end of the horrible marches. After the war, he moved to Israel where he established his home and raised his children. Here in Israel, he wrote and published three books about the Jews of Kovno, from its golden era until its destruction in the Holocaust.
In his weekly meetings with an Ezer Mizion volunteer, Rabbi Gibraltar mentioned that in his childhood, he had been an expert swimmer. After the war’s end, too, he did a lot of swimming, in preparation for his planned Aliyah, since he had heard that the British do not allow the immigrants’ ships lay anchor close to shore. Those days, with his swimming skills, he saved many people from drowning.
Today, due to a substantial decline in his physical functioning, he is at home most hours of the day. When he was young, he hopped in and out of a car many times a day. Now his body fails him and getting into a car is as difficult as flying to the moon. When he was young, he had spent his vacations at scenic places, taking in the glorious beauty of Hashem’s world. He traveled where he wished. There was nothing holding him back. Now traveling from one room to another is a battle. In his mind’s eye, he can see the awesome beauty of the ocean. He yearns to be there once more…to make the brocha Oseh Maaseh Breishis (blessing) as his whole being becomes one with the roar of the waves.
He is a 90 year old Talmid Chochom (man learned in the Torah), a holocaust survivor. He is so grateful for the life he was given. He has no complaints. But oh, to see the ocean once more… to feel the power of the waves as they come crashing down… to gaze at the horizon as sea meets sky far, far into the distance. And then to make the brocha (blessing) in full awe and what HaKodosh Boruch Hu (G-d) had wrought.
He yearned but he understood that it cannot be. Until the Ezer Mizion volunteer heard his whispered dreams. Then things began moving fast. Contacts were made. Logistical hurdles were surmounted. More problems. These also were vanquished. Then a date was set. A slot was cleared with an Ezer Mizion ambulance for his trip. An experienced, Ezer Mizion trained volunteer was thrilled to facilitate the outing. And a dream became reality.
Another holocaust survivor. Another dream. This one is 99 years old. His neshoma aches to, once again, experience a davening at Meron. Impossible, say the naysayers. Lets try, says Ezer Mizion. It’s not easy. For each impediment conquered, two more crop up. It would be easy to simply say, it’s too hard. But Ezer Mizion is not about to take the easy way out when there exists even a remote possibility of bringing such spiritual joy to this centenarian. Phones buzzed and emails flew across cyberspace. It was not long before this dream, too, became reality.
Ezer Mizion’s Ambulance Division with its fleet of vehicles outfitted to handle the mobility impaired, the respiratory patient and so many more challenges, handles hundreds of calls for patients to be transported to and from clinics for chemo, dialysis and other treatments and emergency calls. A small number of slots are reserved for its “Fulfilling A Dream” program which has brought happiness to so many homebound. It enables elderly people to choose an event they wish to experience, something they can look forward to. Ezer Mizion receives requests from social workers or family members of lonely, disabled, elderly people throughout Israel. After reviewing the requests, Ezer Mizion coordinates the logistics of making these dreams come true.
Typical requests include trips to the Kotel and other special places, visits to relatives and friends and participation in family celebrations. Ezer Mizion’s Ambulance and Transport Department plays an integral role in fulfilling dreams, providing the necessary vehicles and personnel
On the way home from Tel Hashomer this morning, just when I had finished saying, “Thank you,” for all the great mitzvahs that this organization does for us, a song started playing on the radio that could not have been more symbolic for me:
Hallelujah – everyone will sing.
With one, lone word,
The heart is full of tons of gratitude.
It, too, shouts – what a wonderful world!
Hallelujah – with the song.
Hallelujah – for each day that dawns
Hallelujah – for what was,
And for what wasn’t yet – Hallelujah.”
Until quite recently, Ezer Mizion was “just another organization,” as far as I was concerned.
I didn’t really know what they did.
I linked up with them via a co-worker who understood that I was coming from a place of deep frustration.
I explained to them that my father is a cancer patient whose condition is not good and, unfortunately, he cannot get around now. When he needs to go to Tel Hashomer, he has no other means of transportation other than a so very costly ambulance.
On the other end of the line was a nice fellow named Shmulik, with huge patience and a pleasant demeanor. In an instant, my father was added to the Ezer Mizion Transportation Roster and only a quick phone call was needed to bring the nicest, kindliest, most respectful drivers each time transportation was needed. Cost: $0
Even when Abba was hospitalized and we forgot to cancel the transport.
Even when we forget to update some detail.
Even when we canceled at the last minute because our head isn’t on straight due to everything that’s going on.
Even when they had to explain everything to me 80 times over.
Even when it means having to send an ambulance especially for us because we’re not on the route,
Even then, they responded with full understanding, giving us such a good feeling.
So thank you, dear, special people on the other end of the line and behind the steering wheel. Thank you to Shmulik, Danny, and the wonderful girls at the ambulance call-in center and the message reception center. Thank you for being the entire world for people like us, who lose their way a little at the beginning.
I 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. Continue reading Hospital ‘Rounds’ via What’s App
Yisroel Dov was four years old. While his peers were making vroom-vroom noises as they sent their trucks across the living room floor, Yisroel Dov was bravely fighting a battle that no four-year-old should know of. Continue reading Yisroel Dov’s Wish
It 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. Continue reading Who Is the Giver? by Shmuel Strauss
New Ezer Mizion Haifa branch director Moshe Beeri, together with senior Ezer Mizion leadership, have mobilized Ezer Mizion’s ambulance fleet to assist in the evacuation of sick and elderly patients from the Carmel, Bnei Zion and Rambam medical centers in Haifa.
They always say thank you but, in truth, I am the one who feels privileged, as an Ezer Mizion driver, to transport so many very special people who have been battling illness and often have gained a clear insight of Hashem’s loving hand. A family had requested a ride to the kvarim (gravesites) to give thanks to Hashem upon their young son completing a set of treatments.
At 7:45 I met six-year-old Noam Chai and his parents, exuberant after a 5-month long hospital stay. Their story is amazing, a story of blazing faith, of pure love of Hashem. Continue reading Behind the Wheel with Yisroel
“Thank you, this is T. Would it be possible please to have a transport for tomorrow morning, going at 10:00 a.m. and returning at 1:00 p.m.?” – “Certainly, with pleasure. Please call and confirm again tonight.”
That is the pleasantness and good feeling that we witness again and again at Ezer Mizion, an organization that has long ago become a model of exceptional public service, especially for the ill and disabled. The service is wonderful, reliable, and punctual, and they maintain full confidentiality.
In the evening, when we call to confirm, we again feel the radiating pleasantness and empathy. The actual transport staff also gives such a good feeling. They are friendly and upbeat and do their work with their entire heart.
Thank you to all those involved, and especially to Mrs. Dassy, who orchestrates the entire network.
Wishing you continued strength to do your work with joy!
The family calls him a malach. A malach is both an angel and a messenger and thirteen years ago, he was truly Hashem’s messenger in saving a life. Yisroel Fischer uses his spare time- and then some- to volunteer in various capacities. He had been called to assist at a MVA with multiple victims and raced to the scene. His assignment: to move the niftarim, who were already placed in body bags, to a different area. Things were going as smoothly as such a grueling job could until… a bag moved. Yisroel rushed to open it and was shocked to see a baby girl…alive! The MDA took over, sedating her and placing her on a respirator while he returned to his assignment. Continue reading Next Stop: Meron!