For years Yisrael S., helped take care of his children, assisting them with simple, everyday tasks such as eating and getting dressed. Now he is the one who needs this kind of help.
Yisrael S., 38, is completely dependent on other people to help him with day to day tasks, though it wasn’t always this way. Yisrael happily lived with his wife Shikma, in Ofakim until a few years ago, when after the birth of their fifth child he was diagnosed with an uncommon type of cancer. Yisrael needed surgery to take out several non-malignant but dangerous tumors that were located in vital parts of his body. Yisrael underwent a complicated operation, and several vertebrae in his back were removed. As a result of this he became paralyzed. Yisrael is now confined to a wheelchair and needs assistance with every single thing he does- from eating & drinking to washing, getting dressed, using the bathroom-everything. As if this wasn’t enough of an adjustment, there is intense pain that accompanies Yisrael’s condition. His doctors say that the level of pain he experiences on a daily basis is something an average person could never endure.
Despite all this, Yisrael continues living with incredible happiness. Something he is able to still do without assistance is learn Torah, which he does with great joy and enthusiasm.
Unfortunately though, the situation at home is not joyful. It is extremely hard for Yisrael’s family. With their father constantly in the hospital, the children don’t have the luxury of spending time with him on a consistent basis. The upheaval in their day to day lives and seeing their father in this different state has caused them extreme emotional distress. Shikma is also suffering. She went from leading a normal, happy life with her family to being left on her own to take care of all her children and her husband who can no longer function as he used to. She is now under the care of a psychologist to help her work through this mental trauma.
The financial situation is dire. The monthly 5,000 shekel ($1300) Bituach Leumi payment that they receive is not nearly enough to cover their enormous expenses. Shikma does her best to take care of her family alone but the everyday costs of food, help with cleaning, and childcare are just too much to bear. Their small apartment is on the second floor, inaccessible to someone in a wheelchair. But there is no money to move down to a lower floor. There is not one extra shekel in the house for anything. When asked what she would like in her home, Shikma said that she would love a new mattress. Not for herself, but rather for her husband who would really benefit from a clean comfortable mattress.
Yisrael recently underwent an additional surgery and has been moved to Beit Levinstein (a rehabilitation facility in Ra’anana), where he is undergoing rehab for at least the next three months. He receives therapy once a day, but activities end at noon. This means that from 12:00 p.m. and on, there is nothing for him to do and no way for him to move. Luckily, two dedicated volunteers have been accompanying Yisrael every single day since his hospitalizations began. They travel from Ofakim and stay with him until 9:00 p.m. These men take care of all Yisrael’s physical needs and they are also there to take care of his spirit. They keep him company by talking with him, singing with him, learning with him, and just doing the regular activities that every person needs. The journey from Ofakim to Ra’anana is over an hour and a half in each direction but these men are dedicated to making Yisrael’s life as enjoyable as possible and they complete the trip with happiness. Without their help, who knows what Yisrael’s condition would be.
In this heartbreaking situation we would like to do whatever we can to help Yisrael and his family. We are aiming to raise $7,500 which can go a long way by helping to cover part of the transportation costs for Yisrael’s life-saving volunteers. It will also go toward the purchase of an orthopedic mattress for Yisrael and provide household and childcare help for Shikma, which will ease some of the pressure on her during this summer break. Please donate as generously as you can, spread Yisrael and Shikma’s story and help us help them.