A death trip… Continue reading Yedid Amo- Beloved of his People
Hello. I was in Sharei Tzedek hospital, staying with 2 grandsons about 2 weeks ago. I flew in from NJ to help our children. I came from the airport to take a shift at the hospital with no food. Someone from your organization came around delivering food to people who weren’t patients. It was beyond amazing! My daughter and I were just discussing how we could get lunch and you showed up! Unbelievable! Thank-you! It was the best lunch ever!
Every Friday night, in every Jewish home, a platter of roast chicken appears on the table and the cholent can be heard bubbling in the crockpot. We take it for granted. It always was and it always will be. Until one week when it isn’t. No mouth-watering aromas emanating from the kitchen. No frantic calls of, “Put away the game right now and set the table. Shabbos is in eight minutes!” No Mommy standing quietly by the flickering candles, praying for those she loves. Where is Mommy? The mainstay of the home? The creator of the Shabbos atmosphere? Mommy is in the hospital, undergoing chemo. And even though the clock reads past the time for sunset, Shabbos, as the family knows it, had not yet entered their home. Grandma lives miles away in California and Abba, utterly devastated by recent events, is hardly functioning. Ten-year-old Chavi spreads peanut butter on bread to feed herself and her siblings. Continue reading Shabbos Meals for Familes of Patients
Nine hours! Can you imagine spending nine hours with five small, rambunctious children in a hospital setting with no supplies?! It’s the stuff of nightmares but it actually happened to a young mother who became worried about a medical issue in one of her kids and, having no place to leave them, ran out with the whole family to the hospital emergency room. Continue reading Lottie’s Kitchen
Did you ever feel helpless? Alone? Frightened? Do you recall how a smile of sunshine could break through the black clouds? The hospitals are filled with family members who have been suddenly catapulted out of their comfortable daily routine to deal with a nightmare of fear. They spend hours and hours with the patient, never even noticing their own needs. A quick coke from the machine down the hall will have to sustain them for the day. Often vital decisions must be made with the decision-maker running on empty. Until Lottie’s Kitchen comes by. A sympathetic volunteer arrives at the door bearing a mouth-watering, attractively served, hot meal. The caregiver, who hadn’t even realized that he is fasting, is revived like drooping flower after a heavy rain. A pat on the shoulder, an understanding remark, some practical advice complete the meal. He feel strengthened. He is now able to once again give to the patient who is depending on him.
Yaakov* is a case in point. He known as Mr. Nice Guy. Continue reading Lottie’s Kitchen
In Hadassah’s outpatient clinic, I sit near my wife on a chair,
Along with many patients who’ve come from far and near.
Each one is hooked up to IV, getting chemo to cure his disease
Perhaps the powerful drugs will alleviate and ease.
As I sit there, my stomach rumbling, I wonder – what will be???
As an escort, I get no hospital meal, and I’m ravenously hungry…
Just then, in walk some women, their bags bulging and cheery
With food in all shapes and size – pareve, meat, and dairy.
For those who want something lighter, there’s a fresh and luscious roll.
I choose the tray of pareve food – it revives me, body and soul!
I thought of the chessed you do with love that’s sincere and real.
Thank you, Ezer Mizion, for the tasty and heartwarming meal!
We are currently visiting and had to take our daughter to out- patients last evening. It was traumatic and Boruch HASHEM all was okay. Ezer Mezion was there with a coffee trolley and biscuits and kindness. I would liken Ezer Mizion to water. It seeps into every corner. So do the activities Ezer Mizion. Its chessed seeps into every corner of people’s lives.
Thank you and please convey our thanks to the hanholla. You have no idea what that chessed means. May you all have koach (strength) to carry out this wonderful avoida (service).
A visiting family from South Africa
Dano Monkotowich, Jerusalem Branch Coordinator
From Dano I learned a new definition for the term “alternative medicine.”
“Patients and their families appreciate what our work does only after we are not on the scene anymore. A worried family member sits next to his loved one’s room in the hospital chewing at his nails or hunting for an outlet where he can charge his cell phone. He’s nervous, concerned, frightened.
Suddenly an Ezer Mizion volunteer passes by with his refreshments cart and offers him a Danish pastry. The fellow thanks him with a blank expression, opens the wrapper, and eats the cake. The volunteer has already continued on his way. He is already on the next floor, in a different ward. Meanwhile, downstairs, the person pulls off half of the pastry and gives it to his sick relative. They finish munching, flick away the crumbs, and suddenly grasp what ‘alternative medicine’ is.”
Dano is right. It’s not the Danish. It’s the secret ingredient. The compassionate smile. The pat on the shoulder. The sympathetic words of encouragement. It’s the giver, even more than what is given. You are sitting there in the oncology ward at your low point. You have forgotten that you didn’t put a thing in your mouth the entire day. It is not even ‘alternative medicine’. It is medicine itself and without the pain that often comes with medical treatment. Plain and simple. Both the patient and the family member feel so much better. Someone noticed them as a person- not a vein to jab or a form to fill out. Someone understands what they are going through. Someone cares.
Every day, Ezer Mizion’s Lottie’s Kitchen volunteers walk through hospital wards on regular routes at set hours and distribute their alternative medicine- pastries, hot meals, sandwiches, and drinks- to patients and their families. The ‘treatment’ affects not only the patient and family member but also the Lottie’s Kitchen volunteer. “It feels good to give,” they all say once they have tasted the experience.
“A few years ago,” Dano says, “we launched a project to recruit volunteers, with an interesting theme: Couples. The couples, usually parents of children, took upon themselves one or more volunteer rounds a week. They walk or drive to the hospital, load the meals onto the wagon, and go through the wards to distribute them. What were the results? Patients and their families whose pain was lessened, a greatly strengthened volunteer network, and, as a bonus: greatly enhanced matrimony. There is something about this joint work of doing chessed for others that does wonders for their marriage. I am willing to wager that on their way home, the couple has already forgotten all about the fights they had that afternoon and the entire week before.”
You know what I found most interesting in this whole story? Think about it. When someone you know has to be in the hospital, chas v’shalom and suddenly an energetic young man or woman sporting an Ezer Mizion shirt comes over and offers you a sandwich, does it seem strange to you? Unexpected? No, not at all. You know why? Because Ezer Mizion has become synonymous with giving. We have grown accustomed to it. And as far as I’m concerned, this pleasant routine, this naturalness with which we accept the Ezer Mizion giving– that is the biggest story of all.
Summer is over and Yom Tov has come to an end. It’s back to the routine. Lost homework, missed busses and all the rest. For most people.
As we wait outside in the rain with a shivering first grader who refuses to wear her raincoat, a neighbor looks on in envy. She would also like to be back to routine but her first grader is lying on a hospital bed in the oncology ward. She has her own routine: chemotherapy treatments, tests, pain, and anxiety.
It’s so hard. The endless, complex red tape, the demands of the other children who cannot understand why Mommy is hardly home, the regular household needs, the emotional needs of her precious child lying so pale and wan—it’s all so overwhelming. And then there’s the fear- the terror that engulfs, the horror that crushes, the monster that you don’t want to face but it faces you and you are forced to look into its ghastly eyes, helpless. Continue reading Back to Routine?
Cooking for Yom Tov? Don’t forget the people who are coping with a crisis situation!
Thus read the opening sentence to a pre-Yom Tov post.
Those days before Yom Tov, the Ezer Mizion’s kitchens were humming with activity as they engaged in large-scale preparations to send Yom Tov meals to families of the ill and disabled and bring the joy of the upcoming chagim into their homes.
Leah Kupferstein’s* kitchen normally would boast a counter full of culinary delights prepared for Yom Tov. But while the calendar had told Leah that Yom Tov will be arriving in a matter of days, her mixer remained on the shelf, unproductive, as desolate as its mistress who sits by the bedside of little Avi* at Schneider’s Oncology Clinic. Will the aura of Yom Tov enter their home at all this year? Continue reading Impossible?