The Birth of an Organization
A young man marries, looking forward to long hours spent with his new wife, sharing incidents from their growing up years, planning how they will bring up their own children, lengthy sessions deciding the merits of keeping his shirts in a drawer or in the closet. The first year of marriage….delightful charm in sharing a cup of coffee….hours of preparation for his homecoming and joy as he opens the door….for most people.
But for Chananya Chollak and; his new wife, their first year was not a time of bliss as they had expected. Two months after Chananya got married, his father-in-law had a stroke that paralyzed half of his body. Instead of eager confidences over a lovingly prepared supper, Chananya and his wife found themselves sharing medical updates on the run, as one took over the shift from the other. The young man may have been disappointed. He may have turned bitter and resentful. Chananya’s heart was bigger than that. He used the opportunity to grow, and, in so doing, eventually benefited hundreds of thousands of his fellow Jews.
During the long recovery process of his father-in-law, Chananya got to know the world of hospitals all too well. At the time that his father-in-law was hospitalized, a young girl with cancer was there as well. Her mother stayed with her all day, and her father, all night. Chananya organized eight neighbors to take shifts at the young girl’s bedside to give the weary parents some time to rest. With a heart that could feel the pain of others, even as he himself was bleeding with sorrow, Chananya gave birth to Ezer Mizion, Israel’s Health Support Organization, today assisting the most vulnerable segments of Israel’s society.
In his daily visits to the hospital, Chananya noticed that dialysis patients were coming to the hospital for treatment three times a week by ambulance. He calculated the cost of traveling back and forth to the hospital by ambulance to be exorbitant. And so Chananya got hold of a large vehicle, turned it into a professionally outfitted ambulance, funded by friends, and began arranging free transport to and from the hospital for medical treatment. This original vehicle has since been replaced by many, many more as Ezer Mizion’s fleet of ambulances continues to assist the ill and the frail.
Involvement with the needs of sick people and their families let Chananya and his steadily growing volunteer corps to initiate other ways to help ease the difficulties associated with illness. Realizing that proper meals for the families of the ill were needed for nutritional and emotional support, the Cholaks would send a few meals every week from their home to family members of sick people. More volunteers joined the Cholak’s efforts and Ezer Mizion’s Food Distribution Program, today a nationwide operation that distributes half a million meals a year, was born.
Similarly, the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Donor Registry, today the largest Jewish registry in the world, originated with a grass-roots bone marrow drive to find a matching donor for a leukemia patient, whose family was desperately seeking a genetic match for their loved one somewhere out there in the Jewish world.
An idealistic young man, confronted with a situation that would upset the equilibrium of those much older than he, does not surrender to feelings that center on self, but instead turns his emotions outward and becomes a blessing to mankind.