Behind the Scenes at Ezer Mizion with its Founder, Chananya Chollak Part 2 of a Three Part Series

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Rav Chollak bringing small patient to be blessed by Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau

Rav Chananya Chollak chuckles when he recalls the modest beginnings of Ezer Mizion in 1979 during his shana rishona (first year of marriage).

“Everything was done out of our little apartment. The “receptionist” sat in the kitchen or the children’s bedroom. I sat in a cubicle of sorts at the entrance, and in the half-room sat the people waiting for consultations. Volunteers came to us to work on meals for distribution and they organized themselves in the bedrooms. The medical equipment that we gave out was stored in our home, although how it fit, I cannot imagine. The house was wide open to everyone – people in need, volunteers –  all the time.

“Three years later, we felt that the apartment had become too small to accommodate the needs of Ezer Mizion and that the time had come to expand the work of the organization in an orderly manner. We moved to a larger apartment but the organization quickly outgrew that, too. A philanthropist helped us buy the apartment next door. Later on, we rented a few more such places around the city and Ezer Mizion continued providing services for its existing departments and developing further, without a stop. We’ve come a long way, baruch Hashem ((thank G-d).”

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Hot meals being delivered to family members sitting 24/7 at bedside of patient.

 At the start, meals were delivered by the Chollaks and their friends to a handful of families. Today, hundreds of meals are delivered each day to family members spending their days at the bedside of a loved one in the hospital. Meals are also provided to afternoon programs for special children, and to families whose exhaustive attention to a patient does not allow them to cook for the rest of the family.

Today, Ezer Mizion works from a countrywide deployment of 57 branches. In addition to the original departments, Ezer Mizion now includes the loan of medical equipment, a hydrotherapy pool, a center for medical counseling and referrals, a division for social services, day nurseries for special needs children, a child development division, assistance for families dealing with mental health challenges, programs for the elderly and more. The organization has a network of over 25,000 volunteers throughout the country. The Bone Marrow Registry, the largest Jewish registry in the world, has close to a million registrants and has facilitated 2700 life-saving transplanted around the globe.

Twelve and Four Equal Sixteen

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Ezer Mizion has grown from the tiny Chollak apartment

Not only are Rav Chananya Chollak’s  work hours, which include nights, Shabbos, Yom Tov, geared to chessed but even his personal life He is the father of 16 children, four of them adopted.

“I met them in the course of my work at Ezer Mizion. There was a family of immigrants from Iran. Adjusting to a new country can be hard enough. This family found themselves to be living in a nightmare when the mother was stricken with cancer. There were four little children. I came for a home visit and saw the terrible poverty in which they lived. The refrigerator was totally empty. We brought volunteers to help with the child care and delivered daily hot meals for the family that had been living on almost nothing. We provided medical advice and referrals regarding the mother’s treatment. But, sad to say, two years later, she passed away. Things could not get worse, or so we thought until   half year afterwards when the father also died of a brain tumor. The four orphans remained all alone.”

“After the shivah, the oldest daughter, who was then 13 years old, came to me,” he says, and in spite of the many years that have elapsed since, his voice trembles with emotion. “She cried when she told me that they were informed that the plan was to split them up among different institutions. Suddenly, she looked me in the eye and asked, “Maybe you could adopt us…?”

“Let me ask you, can anyone  ignore such a plea?”

“I spoke with my wife and said to her: ‘It is entirely your decision.’ My wife, Leah A’H, the tzaddeket (righteous woman), agreed to take them,” he said with visible admiration.”

Rav Chollak relates very naturally to the four orphans and explains that they are his children in every respect. “They were little orphans who had simultaneously lost father and mother. True, the beginning was not easy as you can well imagine. But our natural children received them with a lot of love and they became an inseparable part of the family. Today the four are already married and we have grandchildren from them,” he says proudly. (To be continued.)

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They Didn’t Mix Up the Test Tubes

Anat, the daughter of Jenny, who was saved thanks to a bone marrow donation from Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry, relates:
There is a 20-year difference between my mother and me. We have a ‘contract’, that she ‘retires’ at age 100, and I, at age 80 – and that way, we won’t miss our regular daily chat…pr bmr Anat 1238088_234219193397691_1339497794_n Continue reading They Didn’t Mix Up the Test Tubes

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Sibling Jealousy or…?

Parenthood. Sometimes we err on the side of caution. Sometimes the opposite. It’s so hard to know. A year and a half ago, Shachar developed a slight limp that got worse with time. His twin brothers had been born shortly before that, and I thought at first that it was just a ploy to draw our attention.pr Oranit Shachar pre hair loss 1185576_233847570101520_719880311_n We waited. Continue reading Sibling Jealousy or…?

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Death…and then Life by Meital Yasur Beit-Or, “Israel Today”

Yifat Brilliant, of Givatayim, underwent two traumatic experiences in one brief month. One culminated in death…the other in life.  Bewildered, distraught, she suffered the loss of her mother who had been a key figure in her life. She sat shiva and immediately upon her rising from mourning, a call came in. Is she able to donate bone marrow to save a life?  pr bmr Yifat Brillliant 2013 1667_ne_photo_stories1_7c766

 

Life and death intertwined. Yifat drew upon strength from deep within her and rallied to the need. Continue reading Death…and then Life by Meital Yasur Beit-Or, “Israel Today”

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His Daughter’s Wedding

The flowers were ordered-they decided on pink and blue. The gown was stunning-it fit perfectly. The caterer had agreed to the molded dessert that she loved. But the bride was not happy. “Flowers and desserts are nice but what about my father! It’s my special day. He talked about this day since I was a little girl. And now he won’t even be there.”
Miles across town, Eli’s tears mixed with his daughtepr ambulance Eli to daughter wedding 2013 529356_176534612499483_549334243_nr’s as he lay ill in the hospital bed. There was not a chance that he would be released before the wedding. Continue reading His Daughter’s Wedding

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Dreams…

A bright spot in the nightmare of battling a monster named Cancer

With our normal, day-to-day lives, we cannot imagine the anguish of the parents of a cute little boy dealing with a monster named Cancer. Even a nightmare can have its bright spot. Read how Ezer Mizion created that bright spot for little Shachar with the big, wide grin:

Six year old Shachar had a dream. Continue reading Dreams…

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