By: Tomer Keren
91-year old Binyamin Zusman, a man with personal charm and a lust for life – an Ezer Mizion hospital volunteer in the dialysis and oncology wards
If you had occasion to visit the dialysis and oncology wards at Meir Hospital in Kefar Saba sometime in the last ten years, chances are that you’ve met Binyamin Zusman.
You would not have passed him by without noticing. Binyamin, with all his charisma, is not someone who goes unnoticed. He lives in Kefar Saba, is a native of Jerusalem, and is the sixth generation of his family in Israel.
This gentleman is not a doctor on the ward, nor is he connected at all to the medical staff. But according to the patients, he alleviates their illness no less than they do.
Binyamin, aged 91, is a volunteer at the hospital under the auspices of Ezer Mizion. His humanitarian work has recently been recognized by the Director of the Hospital who has presented him with a well-deserved honor certificate.
“For 32 years, my late wife, Miriam Zusman, distributed Shabbat candles in the hospital wards,” says Binyamin. “In recent years, I stepped into her shoes. I have my own ‘bag of medicine’ to make patients feel good.”
Binyamin performs and sings for the patients in any language they ask for: Farsi, Arabic, Yiddish, Yemenite, or Spanish. He does so much more than sing. The air is electric as he approaches. The patients’ faces light up at the first smile. They sense his understanding, his caring, the trademark of an Ezer Mizion volunteer carried to the ultimate.
“I love to sing the classics to them. Recently I composed a new song that I created just for people undergoing illness. ”
How do the patients respond?
“They want to smother me with love. It must be because they feel the love I have for them that they want to respond in kind.”
Why is it so important to you to come to the Oncology Ward?
“My wife was a patient in the Oncology Ward, and that’s why it’s especially important to me to come to this ward. I feel like I’m doing it for her. There are patients here in very serious condition. They can’t help falling into a deep despair, not knowing the outcome of their disease. When I come, their mood changes. My visit really helps. I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe it’s the deep connection I feel for them. The staff, and even the patients themselves, tell me that I give them hope. And hope is a very powerful medication.
Binyamin is an essential part of the hospital. The staff worries that this man, with his great personal charm and lust for life, may decide to retire.
Until when do you plan on volunteering in the hospital?
“I don’t plan to ever retire. I’ll continue as long as G-d lets me.”
For further info: www.ezermizion.org
The Oldest Volunteer