On the second floor behind that special door… The address is the same. The furniture is the same. But the home will never be the same again. It is the woman that creates the home and Leah Chollak A’H, who together with her husband Rav Chananya Chollak hb’ch founded Ezer Mizion, imbued her mikdash me’at with an unequalled aura of awareness of her mission in life. She deeply felt that her time, her energy, her possessions were given to her to give to others. And how she did love those others. Her home was their home and they basked in the caring and respect she showed them.
A granddaughter tells of the time she was sick and spent the day at her grandmother’s house. “I brought a book to read but what was happening in this house was much more interesting.
The bell rang. My grandmother went to open the door. Then I heard not a sound. Finally after many minutes, I heard “sha” and again after awhile “sha” and again and again. Did someone come to just tell my grandmother to keep quiet??? Finally I heard my grandmother say, ‘ Take your time. I have plenty of time for you – this from a woman who was on call 24/7 for the needs- big and small- of klal Yisroel. After many more minutes I heard “lom”. It was Yekusiel who had come to ask a favor from my grandmother. Yekusiel stuttered extremely badly but my grandmother treated him with the utmost patience and respect.”
A daughter recalls being woke up in the middle of the night by the phone ringing (their phone rang constantly during the week hours of the night with people needing medical advice or just a caring ear to listen.) ” I ran to the extension so that my parents wouldn’t have to wake up but I was too late. My mother had already picked up the phone. This is what I heard: A robber is trying to get into the building, right near my apartment. I’m scared. Maybe you should call the police. My mother asked him details and he replied that he feels much better knowing that the situation is in her hands. When my mother hung up the phone, she went back to sleep. “Mommy, aren’t you going to wake Abba? Aren’t you going to call the police?” My mother just smiled and told me not to worry. Everything is ok. A short time later, she was woken up again and again I heard her talking about the robber and a third and a fourth. In the morning, my mother explained to me that the caller has a mental issue and speaking to her calms him. ‘Some nights he sleeps through but others he needs reassurance so I talk to him,’ she said.
And, in case you might think that Leah slept in between those calls, rest assured that her sleep was further broken up by the many knocks on her door:
“My toddler swallowed…”
“My wife just had a baby and…”
“My grandfather fell and he…”
Was there time for a nap during the day? We’ll let the reader be the judge of that. In addition to caring for her large family, she cooked special meals for people who had no family to take care of them. One needed salt-free, one needed no sugar, one liked cookies made with no sugar, no flour, no eggs. Ezer Mizion’s Food Division sends thousands of meals to families dealing with serious illness or otherwise in need but Leah had her special ‘customers’ to which she gave her own brand of personalized service. Until her last days, she volunteered for Ezer Mizion, cooking meals in her oversized pots. She spent hours talking to the lonely, the grief-stricken, giving, giving, giving all day long.
Her care in money matters was extraordinary. How many times was she offered a ride to her many chassadim by a driver of an Ezer Mizion vehicle. She would thank them profusely but refuse, saying, ‘Ezer Mizion vehicles are meant for the sick, not the healthy.’ A granddaughter speaks of her on awe: My throat hurt and she wanted to make me a special treat of cocoa but there was no milk. She quickly went next door to the Ezer Mizion station and, sure enough, there was a full container of milk. As soon as she brought me my treat, she ran to her notebook to write down: Owe Ezer Mizion ½ cup of milk. The fact that she, co-founder of Ezer Mizion together with her husband Rav Chananya Chollak, hb’ch, spent hours upon hours volunteering for Ezer Mizion both day and night meant nothing. A half cup of milk was borrowed. A half cup of milk must be repaid.
Founded by Leah and her husband h’bCh, Rav Chananya Chollak, Ezer Mizion can never be a cold, professional, unfeeling organization. Ezer Mizion was founded as an extension of themselves, an organization with an outpouring of devotion for every Yid.
Leah is gone now. From her place in shomayim she is certainly pleased to see Ezer Mizion continuing to help those in need-just as she did throughout her short life- with love, with compassion and with dignity.