An Island of Holiday Joy

The scene: Schneider Hospital in Petach Tikvah

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Cancer support to uplift the spirits and soothe the soul

Baldheaded children, solemn doctors, the smell of sadness and suffering suffusing every corner…

Everyone here is busy battling for life, sometimes against all odds.

Who has time to think about the approaching Yom Tov? The thoughts wander from upsetting test results to grueling treatments and no further.

Shavuot? A far-off dream of some previous life…blintzes frying, tiny tots singing Little Torah, an atmosphere of joy and excitement.

This year? The ambience of a holiday would do wonders for their wounded souls but no one has the emotional energy to even smile. Will Shavuot 2018 just pass over, hardly noticed ?

Unbeknown to these suffering Jews, there was a small group who understood. They understood that these families were incapable of creating their own Yom Tov but how desperately they needed the feeling of holiness, the feeling of being part of the Jewish nation.

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Cancer Support: an island of holiday ambience

And so there, with the very air at Schneider’s laden with despair, they took time off from their own preparations and broke through the hopelessness, bringing light and happiness to these suffering Jews.

In the midst of this sea of sorrow and unimaginable pain, Ezer Mizion Petach Tikvah Linked to Life volunteers set up an island of holiday joy and tranquility.

Dozens of cancer support volunteers did everything to give seriously ill patients and their families a hiatus of calm and compassion. Holiday delicacies were prepared and attractively served and individual needs were met so that each family felt, “Yes, it’s Yom Tov today.”

As one volunteer described it (translated):

I link up to you, we all link together

And in just a matter of minutes

One cake is added to another

One dessert joins the next

Kugel after kugel is baked

And families of seriously ill patients will be able to enjoy delicacies this Shavuot too!

 

Allow us to dedicate the following to you, our precious volunteers:

“Rav Zeira (an ancient sage)said: This megillah (Ruth) – why was it written? To teach you the great reward of those who do chessed, loving kindness”

 

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Bar Mitzvah Celebration?

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Bar Mitzvah celebration?

A young mother in Rechasim is battling cancer but that doesn’t stop the date of her son’s Bar Mitzvah from coming closer and closer. What the family had looked forward to for years promises to be a day of despair. Celebration? How does one celebrate when…when…? And so the days on the calendar rolled on and the Bar Mitzvah was scheduled for a Sunday in mid-April. Bar Mitzvah? One hundred people were invited but there was no joy. Both finances and mood precluded ordering any amenities including food! A bleak celebration indeed.   Continue reading Bar Mitzvah Celebration?

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So, So Much More

Written by an Ezer Mizion volunteer who gained more than she gave during the months that she sat at Leah’s bedside.candle

We stood at the door, needy and poor

Searched for words, but none would appear.

For you, Leah, mere words could never express,

Just a hot and glistening tear.

For whatever we’d say, any words we’d outpour

You were so, so much more…

You were so, so much more…

 

A mother and daughter, sister and wife,

Your “flock” always there at your side,

With devotion and will, and always so calm,

Your children you gently would guide.

 

You had such a pure and pleasant demeanor,

Your genuine joy captivated.

You knew to be silent, even in pain,

A true inner wholeness radiated

 

I felt your strong image obligating us all,

For we saw a life story of courage,

A tale – short, yet long – from which we must learn,

An epic to urge and encourage.

 

I saw your figure arousing, demanding –

So simple, yet sincerely so pure.

Teaching: What value has a transient world

Versus Torah heights that endure?

 

I merited seeing how one can and must

Live with rivers of flowing love

For every mitzvah, for each creature,

And for the Creator above.

I had a walking textbook before my eyes,

Of how to feel the pulse of time as it flies.

 

Pearls carefully strung, pieces of life

Stories too many to count,

You were… You said…

You left us a legacy…

A wondrous lifetime account.

 

Volunteering at your bedside was a privilege indeed,

Your radiant character inspiring,

Days and nights, how you hoped and believed,

I was awed by your faith, never tiring.

 

You lay in your bed, wounded and aching,

Your body, in agony and pain

Yet you did all to give a good feeling, a sweet,

Thanking us again and again.

 

As the sand in your hourglass neared to its end,

You knew how to utilize your time.

To inquire about our new job, a shidduch to suggest,

As if you were feeling in your prime.

 

Your modesty was rare, O, what a loss!

You were a sacrifice, for the rest to atone.

They surely rejoiced up Above when you came,

But, Leah, we were left here, alone!

 

We’ve lost mother and daughter, sister and wife,

Our finest, alas, has moved on!

Our heads are bowed, we weep on end,

The “thorns” need their “rose,” but she’s gone…

 

I know that the prayers and the tears that were shed

Carved into our hearts their impression

They built and transformed, worked wonders indeed,

With their painful, yet penetrating lesson.

 

For, we, too, want to be pure as were you,

To rise above matter, beyond “why”

And, like Leah, to amass innumerable merits,

To lead a life of truth, to try.

 

The final lines, the music fades,

The tears are reluctantly dried.

I’ve written and shared, yet my words cannot paint

Your greatness – I’m just not qualified

 

No, I just couldn’t capture your towering image,

Not your life, nor the secret of who you are.

All we can do is to learn and to yearn

To be like you, though we are so far.

 

See, Leah, the fruits of your labor,

The light that you kindled still glows

It continues to shine and illuminate

The Kiddush Hashem yet grows.

 

The paths that you blazed, rare in their beauty

Many more will yet tread them again,

For this path is not far, it’s within our reach

Yisgadal v’yiskadash shmei rabbah,” Amen.

 

 

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The Journey We Didn’t Plan – Conclusion – taken from the diary of Nechama Spielman

diary Nechama Spielman
Diary of the anguish and terror permeating the planet called Cancer

So it goes, until April. The last treatment for  the cancer providentially comes out exactly on Yigal’s birthday, the second of Nissan (April). One more little note from Hashem (G-d) showing us that He is holding our hands.  Simply and unceremoniously, the old birthday links up with the new birthday, as we plead to live and rejuvenate and truly grow…

Enveloped by parents and all the loving siblings, who have surprised us and come, we take leave of the room that has become so familiar to us over the last few months. Together, we emotionally sing, “Even behind the tough things that you go through – I am standing there.” There are no mistakes in the world. Even when it is concealed from our view – we are being closely watched and cared for… Continue reading The Journey We Didn’t Plan – Conclusion – taken from the diary of Nechama Spielman

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A Journey We Didn’t Plan Part 3 of a 4-part Series taken from the diary of Nechama Spielman

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Diary of the wife of a cancer patient as she journeys through the nightmare that has overtaken her life

Recap: Nechama has been dealing with her husband’s cancer

Hodu La’Shem (thank G-d). The radiation treatments have helped a lot. The tumor has shrunk which qualifies us for surgery. The remarkable precision of the timing gives us a special feeling. We are slated to go in for surgery right after Rosh Hashanah and to come home for Sukkot. Continue reading A Journey We Didn’t Plan Part 3 of a 4-part Series taken from the diary of Nechama Spielman

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A Journey We Didn’t Plan Part 2 taken from the diary of Nechama Spielman

diary Nechama Spielman
Diary of the wife of a cancer patient as she journeys through the nightmare that has overtaken her life

We’ve landed. We’re now officially residents of the planet called Cancer. For the next few days, we move quickly from one test to the next, trying to obtain a clearer picture. We encounter the state of uncertainty and try to slow down the rapid beating of our heart, the heart that wants to know, to know right now – will he live or will he die? A ton of thoughts are running around inside my head, spinning out of control. Continue reading A Journey We Didn’t Plan Part 2 taken from the diary of Nechama Spielman

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A Journey We Didn’t Plan from Nechama Spielman’s Diary

diary Nechama Spielman
Our Journey through Planet Cancer

I remember exactly where I was sitting.

I remember the curious sun ray that peeked inside to see our new house, slid gracefully across the table, jumped down, gave the floor a luster, and flashed me a warm smile. Maybe it was trying to stroke my cheek, even before we ourselves knew that, just a few moments later, we would be needing just such a comforting embrace. Continue reading A Journey We Didn’t Plan from Nechama Spielman’s Diary

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They Were My Legs

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Devastated by sudden hospital admission

Chanah wasn’t feeling well. Even though she had a busy schedule that day, she walked to her doctor to see if he would have any advice or medication that would enable her to function better as she went about her myriad of activities. That was the last walk she was to take for a very long time. The doctor wasn’t sure as to what was wrong and sent her to the Emergency Room. She was soon to learn that she was suffering from cancer which affected her abdomen and spine. The next day, she was unable to walk at all.  Continue reading They Were My Legs

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Their Role/ Our Role

Volunteer Driver

I’ll admit it. I had a negative thought there for a moment. I picked up a woman at one of the major hospitals and drove her miles to the city in which she lived. For an instant, I couldn’t help wondering why she called for a volunteer. Couldn’t she have gone by bus?  She looked fine, spoke in an upbeat manner, even joked a bit. I’m happy to help people out. After all, that’s why I joined Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life but from what I could see, I wondered if she really needed help. Continue reading Their Role/ Our Role

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We Need You Now!

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Rabbi Chollak offering his unique brand of support to tiny victims of cancer

A conversation with Rabbi Chananya Chollak, International Chairman of Ezer Mizion

For the Yamim Nora’im, Ezer Mizion has set out on a major fundraising drive to raise the money needed to finance scanning tens of thousands of stem cell samples, so as to expand its International Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Rabbi Chananya Chollak, the organization’s International Chairman, took the time to speak with us personally about the need for public support to fund lifesaving activities, to tell us about Ezer Mizion’s goals, and to convey a message to the public. Continue reading We Need You Now!

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