When a person wakes up each day with the thought of how can I make things better for someone else, then answers seem to abound. Rabbi Chananya Chollak, founder of Ezer Mizion, is such a person. The most recent idea has been collaboration with Chasdei Naomi to brighten the lives of hundreds of holocaust survivors on the Yom Tov of Shavuot. These very special heroes often live on a fixed income. Their food expenditures are perforce minimal and only the lower cost items enter their kitchens. Chasdei Naomi’s ongoing food distribution is intended to help the needy survive. Luxury items are not included. This year, Ezer Mizion collaborated with Chasdei Naomi to enable these holocaust survivors to enjoy the higher priced dairy items in honor of Shavuot. Pastries, chocolates, fruit yogurts were included in the packages. Tears filled the eyes of each of the organizers as the profuse thanks poured out from the recipients for items that may grace the shelves of an average refrigerator during the week but were completely out of reach for these venerated golden-agers even for Yom Tov.
Rabbi Chollak’s attitude filters down to each member of the professional staff and even to the over twenty-five hundred volunteers. These volunteers take time from their personal lives to help out those suffering from illness and other crises. Some become mentors to children who have hardly seen their parents in months due to serious illness. They take them shopping for school supplies, do homework with them and even take them on an occasional fun trip. Others volunteer to pack food for those spending hours at the bedside of an ill parent or child…or deliver food packages…or drive them to the hospital…or put together a Bar Mitzvah for a child whose parents have no time or emotional space left what with caring for his cancer-stricken sibling…or pick up vital medication from the airport or…the list goes on and on. These volunteers give many hours with no remuneration other than then satisfaction of helping another Jew. And so each year, on erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan (the day before the month of Sivan begins- a day specifically suitable for prayer), Ezer Mizion shows its appreciation by undertaking a major trip to holy sites for these volunteers. This year they visited the gravesites of the Shelah Hakadosh, Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and poured out their heartfelt prayers.
After a long round of fervent tefillot (prayer), the busloads of women were brought to Haifa’s Municipal Sports Center for a special dinner in appreciation of their dedication. A talk was delivered by Rabbanit Menucha Levi who related how her father, Hagaon Rav Shimshon Pincus zt”l once told a mother whose baby cried a lot that “When a Jewish child cries, the Shechinah (G-d) cries with him.” She continued: “The Ezer Mizion volunteers, who help Hashem’s crying children, allay the tears of the Shechinah (G-d)”
Ezer Mizion International Chairman Rabbi Chananya Chollak shlita gave his warm blessings to the volunteers. He said that when he’d gone to Maran Hagaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita to request a special berachah (blessing) for the Day of Prayer Rav Chaim gave his blessing and also asked that the women have him in mind in their prayers. Rabbi Chollak also mentioned that when he once went to Maran Hagaon Rav A.L. Shteinman zatzal, Rav Shteinman asked pleadingly if his efforts for the organization entitled him to have a part in Ezer Mizion, since with what else could he come before the Heavenly Tribunal?
Each volunteer came away feeling valued, knowing that even the g’dolim (leaders) hold the work of Ezer Mizion in esteem.