The K. family’s living room was well-lit. But neither the sparkling chandeliers nor the glowing fluorescents could banish the darkness that prevailed there.
As long as there were only suspicions and conjectures, they managed to somehow suppress them. But when the unequivocal results arrived, they could not ignore the facts anymore. The father of the family, the supporting pillar, the broad shoulders that carried the entire family – was diagnosed with cancer.
Malka felt as if the sky had crashed down on her. At night, on the tear-drenched pillow on the ward, she had a frightening dream, blacker than black. With the first light of morning that shone into the ward, a ray of light radiated to Malka, a ray that with time emerged as a flaming torch: The Ezer Mizion Cancer Support Division entered the picture and embraced her in a cushion of warmth, empathy, and support in every possible area.
“The change began the moment I was approached by Blumi Willner, the indefatigable head of the department. With a warm, sincere smile, she introduced herself and asked- no, literally pleaded with- me to transfer this entire load to her,” Malka recalls.
“The help she offered was like a lifeline for me, both from the physical side and the emotional aspect. They provided us with medical counseling, took care of the maze of bureaucratic matters that had me totally lost, sent us hot meals, babysitters, and help with housecleaning and laundry. They provided “big brothers” for the kids, helped transport us to the hospital and back, and took shifts by the patient’s bedside. They treated us to a rejuvenating retreat, included us in support groups, and more and more and more, until we arrived at the ‘happy ending’ baruch Hashem. I cannot imagine how we could have gotten through this dark course without the guiding light of Ezer Mizion.”
Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Center has a terminology all its own. Rabbi Yehuda Silver feels that he is entrusted with a power station of souls: “The soul of man is G-d’s candle,” he quotes, and explains: “When the soul is hurt, this light is extinguished. Here we operate a range of projects and rehabilitation programs for the mentally ill and their families. We even have a Center for the Musical Arts, ‘Sounds of the Soul,’ along with occupational rehabilitation, social experiences and ,of course, Torah classes. These activities restore the person’s basic belief in himself and pull him out of the dismal pit of mental affliction. And so, every day here, dimmed eyes become radiant, with flames of vitality once again glowing within them, and another pure Jewish soul emerges from darkness to light.”
You can recognize Efraim by his smile. Once, he was a Down’s Syndrome child, today, he is a Down’s Syndrome adult – so he has known Ezer Mizion for years now.
“My Mom refused to hide me the way they used to hide kids like me,” he says in his typically direct manner. “But she didn’t know who would help her raise me. She put me in a stroller and went to the Ezer Mizion branch, which was very small at the time, but even then, everyone knew that you can get help there for any problem. My Mom likes to tell how I stuck out my tongue at everyone, but that didn’t scare them off. They just stroked me and wished my Mom that she should see lots of nachat from me.”
Efraim’s mother relates how throughout the years raising her special child, Ezer Mizion were like her eyes, giving her guidance and counsel, encouragement and assistance, lending her the necessary rehabilitative and medical equipment, and even helping care for the child, through the afternoon clubs and summer retreats.
A glance at the Geriatric Services Division reveals the great devotion and respect accorded to applicants. Seniors here are treated royally, based on the deeply rooted Jewish belief that the elderly deserve the utmost honor since they are the crowning glory of the generation. The Division operates in a number of areas in the goal of supporting the elderly and illuminating their days by improving their quality of life.
The organization’s Transport Network also includes a number of areas: Ambulances transport patients who needs require the special equipment available in the ambulance. In addition, tens of thousands of volunteer drivers transport the frail or ill in their private vehicles.
In this same manner, important medical materials are also transported from the Center of the country to the North and from the South to the Center. Every day, more than a hundred such requests are posted.
Sometimes it is more complicated. Here is one example among many that happened recently: On Monday, the world stopped for a family in one of the cities of Israel. The mother was diagnosed with a serious illness and the entire family felt that the earth was pulled out from beneath their feet. Ezer Mizion rushed in to do whatever they could to envelop the family with everything they needed. When they asked about meals for Shabbos, the father said that he would be with his wife in the hospital and the children would be scattered among relatives. Then, three hours before Shabbos, the mother of the patient decided that she would stay in the hospital with her daughter, so that the father could be home with his children.
A small light flickered on fifty screens: “Shabbos meals needed for a family of ten.” In fifty homes, they started setting aside portions from the food that was ready, defrosting ingredients, rolling up their sleeves, and sending out flickering, glowing messages: “We’ll prepare ten portions of fish, “Three salads – taken care of,” “”Five challahs waiting here for pickup,” “Seven portions of chicken and a tray of oven-baked potatoes, “Ten schnitzels will be ready in another fifteen minutes, “Dessert for two meals,” “Shabbos will be here in another hour and a half, and I’m starting the pickup now…”
And so, within an hour, the dishes were collected and brought to the family’s home. With tears in his eyes, the father accepted the generous delivery. When he lit the Shabbos candles and poured out his prayers for his wife’s recovery, he added another emotional request: “Master of the World, look at the tremendous chessed of your people and show us soon the candles of the rebuilding of Zion!”