A decade ago, the IDF recognized the invaluable initiative of Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry and became its partner in saving the lives of cancer patients around the globe. An Ezer Mizion Registration Booth became an integral part of the IDF Recruiting Station enabling new recruits to join the Registry. Thus began the much lauded partnership between Ezer Mizion and the Israel Defense Forces which enabled its soldiers to not only protect its country but also saves Jewish lives worldwide. The vast range of ethnic groups among the soldiers have resulted in a dramatically positive response to the thousands of search requests for a genetic match for patients whose sole chance of survival is a transplant. To date, eleven hundred IDF soldiers have donated their stem cells to cancer patients worldwide.
In the words of an overjoyed mother: Who would have imagined that a young religious man from Israel would be the only person in the world who could save our son’s life as he battled AML? We are forever grateful to this wonderful organization, Ezer Mizion, and the work they do.
In keeping with his great respect for the work of Ezer Mizion, President Reuven Rivlin and his esteemed First Lady opened the Presidential Residence to host the momentous event honoring these IDF soldiers who were individually presented with treasured Lifesaving Medallions. The guests witnessed the results of the soldiers’ altruism, Jews who were only alive today because these young men had joined the Registry.
Dr. Bracha Zisser, together with her husband Moti, who recently succumbed to his own bout with cancer, had founded Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry in 1998 when they clearly saw the need for a Jewish registry. Dr. Zisser took the microphone and began speaking about a man named Erez Raslovsky, then stopped mid-speech and called him up to tell his own story. In a voice choked with tears, he thanked Ezer Mizion that his children would not have to grow up as orphans. A family man with a wife and kids, he had been told that he had only six months to live. “I would love to meet the man who saved my children’s father,” he ended. Within seconds, as if drawn by a strong magnet, Omer Ben Horin ran up to the stage no longer able to hold back his tears. The two embraced. Like brothers, from here on in, they would always be a part of each other’s lives. David and Sarah Farajun, whose donor pool had funded the genetic testing of Ben Horin, joined the two on stage in an emotional triangle of triumph. Soon it Shir Tahar’s turn to tell her story. She had been planning a trip to South America. She expected minor difficulties perhaps a delayed flight or a missing suitcase. What she didn’t expect was leukemia. Literally on the eve of her flight, she experienced extreme pain in her legs. Prognosis: possible death unless a bone marrow transplant could take place soon. She met her donor, Eyal Goldman, for the first time on the lawn of the Presidential Residence. “ I owe him my life,” she cried.
Guests were shown a heartrending film of an angelic nine-year-old girl recently diagnosed with cancer who was waiting for the Phone Call. At nine, she understood that without a bone marrow transplant, she would not celebrate her tenth birthday. Will a DNA match be found? In time? While her mother hugs her and urges her to be strong and have hope, each guest inwardly joins in her prayers, her dreams of a future. President Rivlin was visibly moved as he began his address, noting that this is not the usual event hosted at the Presidential Residence.
The celebration was followed by a dinner. The two events were filled with a myriad of guests with nary an inch to spare. Chananya Chollak, International Chairman of Ezer Mizion, warmly welcomed the guests saying we are all one family and feel each other’s pain. And one family it was. All eyes were riveted to the dias as David Ivry, vice President of Boeing International, whose Donor Pool Circle has saved many lives emotionally stated what so many other founders of Donor Pool Circles have found to be true: whoever gives receives so much more. He was followed by others who thanked Ezer Mizion. Said Avrohom Fluk, Chairman of the Board of YDI Ltd.: My hand trembled when I first received a letter saying I had saved a life. Saved a life? I had saved a world as the Talmud states. I had saved a family. I had saved his children. His grandchildren. His great-grandchildren. If I had to sum it up in one word it would be Thank You. Thank you Ezer Mizion for giving me such an opportunity. Said Manny Malekan of Malechite Group Ltd.: In two weeks it will be Rosh Hashona. Hashem will ask, “What have you done with the year I gave you? Is your life worth continuing? And I have an answer, “ I have helped Ezer Mizion!” One after the other, the dais was graced with those who helped save a life and those whose lives were saved. Atty. Moriel Matalon’s son fervently thanked Ezer Mizion for saving his father’s life. He was joined by his two young daughters who added their gratitude in their sweet, childish voices. Within seconds, the grandfather ascended the stage and hugged them all before beginning his own expression of appreciation of being able to watch his grandchildren grow up. He ended by ceremoniously donning a yarmulka and reciting the blessing thanking Hashem for giving him life. Three generations of the Farajun family joined others in thanking Ezer Mizion for enabling them to save sixty-six lives! The evening’s speeches were interspersed with songs of hope and dreams, creating an ambience high above the mundane of everyday living. The linen napkins, so crisp and sparkling only an hour before, were damp with tears as the hearts of the guests joined with those appearing on the dais, so gratified and elated to be a part of Ezer Mizion’s life-saving mission.