Companionship. A vital need at every stage of life. And especially essential for the holocaust survivor. Rivka is a typical survivor. She was born in 1930, in Lodz and grew up with her parents and three siblings in a warm, supportive family. But the war came crashing down on this idyllic family life and young Rivka was left all alone. Illness took the lives of her parents and her siblings perished in Auschwitz and Treblinka. Life as she had known it was no more and the future looked bleak indeed. But brick by brick, she rebuilt her life, marrying and raising a family. And now at 87 years old, she sits, absorbed in her memories, in need of the companionship of those who understand. Spending her days in a rocking chair by the window would be perfectly acceptable but she doesn’t want that. She wants to laugh. She wants to share. She wants to connect with others. And so Rivka became a member of Ezer Mizion’s ‘British Café Club’ and, for the past four years, has not missed an activity. Whatever the weather – cold, rainy, scorching hot – Rivka is there. Bright and bubbly and ever so grateful to the staff. Recently she fell and fractured her arm. But that didn’t stop her. Her arm ensconced in a cast, she surprised everyone at the next event, showering blessings upon each individual staff member. “I’m a holocaust survivor and my blessings have substantial weight in heaven,” she says as she moves on to the next person with her warm words of praise. Continue reading Holocaust Survivors in their Golden Years
For the sixth year running, the “Golden Volunteer” ceremony was held in Bat Yam, as part of the schedule of events for “Retirees’ Month,” which salutes the senior population.
The highlight of the event was a film describing the retirees’ volunteer activities, including interviews with the people who nominated the awardees for the honor. Five seniors were awarded the “Golden Volunteer” medallion and another sixteen received certificates of honor.
The five recipients of the “Golden Volunteer” medallion were: Rabbi Yaakov Rozha, neighborhood rabbi, Reservist Lieutenant Colonel serving in the Military Chief Rabbinate, and a volunteer for Zaka (identification of terrorist victims); Chava Stern, community volunteer for decades in the Cancer Association, Akim, Ilan, and the Soldiers’ Benefit Association; Ruth ben Simchon, volunteer at the seniors’ day center; Mirit Dayan, volunteer at Wolfson Medical Center’s oncology ward; and Binyamin Abramov, volunteer at the Bat Yam branch of Ezer Mizion.
It’s called the Golden Age. From the vantage point of a younger person, it truly seems golden. No difficulties with toddlers or raising a difficult teen. No problematic boss to please. No mortgage payments to meet. The senior can just sit back and enjoy her accomplishments. But is it really so? Now let’s change hats and sit on the senior’s rocking chair. No children who need her to kiss the boo-boo away. No shared smile of satisfaction with a daughter when the perfect Yom Tov outfit s finally found. No challenges. No satisfaction in meeting those challenges. The former frantically-busy-mother wonders just what she is doing in the world. Gradually, lacking the stimulus of natural challenge, she forgets how to think, how to problem solve, how to plan. Lacking goals, she is miserable, depressed with no idea how to extricate herself from the dilemma. Continue reading The Golden Age?
Esty had absorbed the message that pervades every nook and cranny at Ezer Mizion: “What else can we do to help those in need?” Esty was hired as a Developmental Aide who met with special needs children several times a week, working to attain the goals set by the therapists. Being well trained in the field and blessed with a lot of initiative and great ideas, she developed a program using games to help meet those goals. A classic Candyland game could work wonders if utilized in the right way, she discovered. It was not long before she was heading Ezer Mizion’s newly founded Game Lending Library. Therapists would use the games to supplement their own supplies and families with special children would meet with her and borrow games based on her recommendation.
A busy mother, at her wits end, is told that her child will grow so much more if Mommy does ‘homework’ with him each day. It’s not that she doesn’t want to obey the therapists’ instructions. It’s not that she doesn’t care about her child reaching his potential. Continue reading It’s Only a Game…or Is it?
Many Holocaust survivors have built anew and are now successful heads of multi-generational families. But there in the recesses of their being lies the childhood that never was. They don’t speak about it. An adult would feel foolish expressing his regret over never having had the opportunity to play with dolls. But it’s there. Or rather, it is not there. A void that cannot be filled. Among themselves, the sorrow may come up in conversation. And at one other place: an Ezer Mizion Social Club for Holocaust Survivors. It was there that an idea was born.
As these heroes attend their grandchildren’s Bas and Bar Mitzvahs, their hearts are filled with pride. Yet there lurks that germ of regret. “I missed mine.”
Would a formal celebration during the Golden Years serve as closure for the childhood celebrations lost in the wisps of crematoria smoke. Call it a Bas Mitzvah. Call it a closure of sorts. Would it serve to put to rest, once and for all, a few of the demons that still invade in their souls? Continue reading I Missed Mine!
Ezer Mizion, the Caller ID reads.
“Are you available to drive a patient to the hospital today at four?” Eli’s forehead wrinkles in thought and he makes the calculations. “I’ll take it.”
His cell phone vibrates. “This is Dr. Kluger’s secretary,” You have an appointment in another two weeks but a slot became available today at four. Interested?”
Yes, very interested. His foot has been waiting for over a month to be seen by the overbooked, expert orthopedist. True, it’s nothing critical but the nagging pain… Perhaps he should cancel the volunteer trip? Just this once…
“No,” he heard himself say. “I’m booked this afternoon.”
A soldier in the Ezer Mizion army does not go AWOL. Continue reading Ezer Mizion Elad Troops in Action
This journey of mine into the heart of the Ezer Mizion world enters its eighth week. Every week, I reveal another chapter here, in our little corner. So far, we have only touched on a small fraction of the sweeping empire of activity.
Throughout this ongoing overview, during which I have met up with the people at work and have seen the various projects in action, I cannot help asking myself one question – a rather frightening one: What if all this did not exist? These are not government systems under official auspices. They are complementary, civilian, alternative systems. They are the product of private initiatives, supported by donations. They are a bonus that our civilian society is privileged to have at its disposal and that are so basic and self-understood!
Question: What does a family do when their loved one is stricken with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia?
The medical establishment will do its part to the best of its ability (in this case, that is easy enough: to inform the family that there is nothing to do…). But what’s next? How do you deal with a new reality in which a father or grandfather gradually loses his awareness and becomes helpless and disconnected, while his body remains whole and healthy? How do you protect him? How do you relate to him? How do you bear the pain and frustration? What do you do?
You turn to Ezer Mizion.
And what do you do in situations that are not quite so miserable, when you simply reach a stage where you are compelled to assist a parent or other relative who is gradually losing his independence and leaning on the care of others?
You turn to Ezer Mizion.
There, families of Alzheimer’s patients find their first hope for redemption from their impossible situation. They are presented with a course of action that ends up easing not only their burden, but the life of the patient himself. This takes place at the Organization’s Alzheimer’s Support Center, serving very many families in Israel.
This work is only a small part of the comprehensive system Ezer Mizion operates for the benefit of seniors and their families. Here, these precious elderly people, who initiated and established and exerted efforts and lovingly prepared everything for those who are now compelled to care for them and assist them – are given the special attention they have earned. A huge division of Ezer Mizion pools within it the spectrum of services needed by the senior and his family with an emphasis on setting up the environment so that the elderly individual will receive the optimum care.
Caregiver services, a counseling center, an empowerment center, walking groups, a variety of workshops, visits by volunteers, the Bonding with Motion program (a fascinating project that I intend to expand upon in the future) and more, without bounds.
I find it amazing. That there is an address. That there is somewhere to turn. That there is a way to ease pain that is not physical. That there is someone to talk to. That there is – Ezer Mizion.
The prestigious Journal of Intergenerational Relationships (JIR) has published an article prepared by Ezer Mizion’s Geriatric Services. JIR is published by Taylor & Francis, an international publisher whose headquarters are in Philadelphia and London. The article appeared in the recent special issue, “Intergenerational Family Relations in the Multi-Cultural Society of Israel,” guest edited by Ariela Lowenstein and Ruth Katz and is titled “Bonding through Motion: A Physical Activity-Based Approach for Strengthening Relationships between Elderly People and their Caregivers”. The article explains the Bonding through Motion project that was created by Ezer Mizion’s Geriatric Services professional staff which has been successfully implemented in hundreds of families caring for an elderly, homebound loved one. The article is available at
Ezer Mizion’s Outstanding Worker Award Ceremony recognizing excellence in senior care took place at the Kibbutz Chafetz Chaim Hall. Continue reading Outstanding in her Care for the Elderly
Yated Ne’eman – Reshut Harabim Yated Ne’eman
Oct. 28, 2014
I was confused and helpless. My mother was afflicted with Alzheimers and I was at loss as to how to deal with it. What would contribute to her well-being? What would be detrimental? What activities, projects will she benefit from? I wanted to help but had no idea how. Continue reading Kinetic and Connected – for Seniors