Caring for the Caretaker

Lottie Chalom
Lottie Chalom ob’m

Many years ago there had been a place called Lottie’s kitchen. It was a small kitchen in a home teeming with chessed. Lottie, a culinary expert, produced trays and trays of goodies which were largely consumed by her many friends. They would gravitate to this island of warmth and compassion to discuss their personal woes with a woman who seemed to have never-ending patience.

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Volunteering at Lottie’s Kitchen

Lottie and her husband and partner in chessed, Chaim, have since passed on. Their four daughters deemed it appropriate to found Lottie’s Kitchen in Israel under the auspices of Ezer Mizion. It is there that nutritious, attractive meals are produced, packed and delivered to family members sitting at the bedside of a hospitalized loved one. Women of all ages volunteer– from teens to the sprightly 85-year-old golden-ager who makes her way to Lottie’s Kitchen with a walker. She had been a chef in her younger years. Her day at Lottie’s Kitchen enables her to make use of her skills and offer advice to the younger set.  For the elderly, it is a two-way chessed as it enables them to have structure to their day and meet with similarly minded women as they work.

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Lottie’s Kitchen volunteers delivering meals to family members at bedside of hospitalized patient

Israel hospitals do not provide more than basic medical care for its patients.  The nursing staff is unable to take the time for the little extras that can make all the difference to a patient’s spirit. A family member therefore, tries to be there for as much as possible of the 24-hour day. Running from work responsibilities to home responsibilities and then making a mad dash to take over a shift at the hospital does not leave the caretaker much time or emotional space to even think of her own needs. A coke and a bag of chips from the hospital vending machine will often be her only fare for weeks. Distraught, tense, worn out, a mother will sit with her six year old, trying to distract him from the constant question of “Mommy, when will Hashem make the leukemia go away?”

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Caring for the Caretaker

And then, like an angel, there enters a Lottie’s Kitchen volunteer with a steaming hot, delicious meal. She’ll offer her a chance to talk, to share her story, to ask advice. Mommy can’t believe it. Someone is caring for the caretaker!

Orders are filled – some of them very specific. Any meals left over at the end of the day will be given to the dialysis patients who find it so difficult to go back to normal routine just hours after treatment.

Nechama, the head cook, considers herself just a small cog in the wheel of chessed. But those at Lottie’s Kitchen know that it is she that creates the ambience of giving, of loving. More and more.  The Lottie’s Kitchen Family was treated to a trip to pray at the holy places in Israel. Nechama would have loved to join but she realized she would have to cut corners in her cooking. To give ‘her’ people anything less than perfection was unthinkable. So she opted out, citing a quote from the Chofetz Chaim’s book, Ahavas Chessed, that doing chessed is an especially opportune time to pray. ”I won’t lose out at all,” she assured her friends as they boarded the bus.

Lottie’s Kitchen, one of the many divisions of Ezer Mizion, an empire of chessed.

 

 

 

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Behind the Scenes at Ezer Mizion with its Founder, Chananya Chollak – A Three Part Series

pr gen R' Chollak IMG_9149A 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

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Meals on Wheels: Lottie’s Kitchen

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Meals on Wheels for the caretaker sitting for hours and hours at the bedside of a family member

It’s hard work. Ditza is exhausted each day as she makes her way home, usually quite past her official hours. She needed a bit of encouragement to put some verve into her steps.  Recently that encouragement came in the form of two ‘notes from heaven’ showing how much Hashem values her efforts. Continue reading Meals on Wheels: Lottie’s Kitchen

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A Letter Meant for You, Our Dear Friends and Supporters

pr fileIf words of praise were drops of water, this page would turn into an ocean of thanks and adulation, after I experienced more than help, more than support, more than just a ride from point A to point B. Continue reading A Letter Meant for You, Our Dear Friends and Supporters

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Hospital ‘Rounds’ via What’s App

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Linked to Life: We’re all connected!

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

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A Letter Meant for You, Our Dear Friends and Supporters

pr fileHello. 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!

Debbie S.

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Shabbos Meals for Familes of Patients

ShabbosEvery 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

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Lottie’s Kitchen

lk del ok to use w recipient 2Nine 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

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Lottie’s Kitchen

pr food ok to use 12419176_585529134933360_4259858518081068046_oDid 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

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