I am freezing.
Either global warming has finally transformed Southern California or winter has arrived. No matter the reason, just know that it is darned cold here.
No, we are not talking about Midwest cold, which today is hovering around 16 degrees. Nor are we talking about Eastern seaboard cold, which can mix below freezing temperatures with ice-y, slushy painful cold. Rather, I am kvetching (complaining) about the California cold, which occurs whenever the thermometer dips below 65 degrees.
(I know that I am engaging in a mostly meaningless West Coast kvetch (complaint). Usually, I try to downplay our awesome So Cal weather and quietly endure the cold spells. After all, the last time I gloated about our weather to my brother on Cape Cod, I awoke to the destructive shaking of the 1993 earthquake. So I no longer gloat about weather. I just enjoy it in silence.)
I am worried.
You shouldn’t worry. I will be fine. I have my warm jackets, insulated home, and plentiful heat. Yet, I think about all those families who don’t… especially those who live below the poverty line. And the kids who wear only hand me down clothes, and have to pile on sweatshirts to get through a cold night. And the older people who need government assistance just to heat their homes. I think about the 100 at-risk kids from New Directions for Youth, who just last week we took on a shopping spree through Kohl’s department store to provide them with new clothes and maybe even a new toy for the holiday approaching.
This morning, as I left the house, I was able to chose among three different coats to find the one that would both keep me warm and keep me stylish. Not so for those kids or those older adults, or the many who spend what little money they have on food and other subsistence items.
That’s why, when I get home tonight, my wife and I plan to go through our closets and those of our children, to pick out the extra coats that we don’t wear or don’t really need. We will bring those extra coats over to Congregation Or Ami and donate them to needy families through a kid-run organization, Jill’s Coats for Kids.
|Sabrina and Chelsea Stone
with Jill’s Coats for Kids Bin
We have a chance to address these worries and Judaism goads us to do just that. Our Talmud (Sotah 14a) explains, “Just as the Eternal clothes the naked as God did with Adam, so you clothe the naked; just as the Eternal visits the sick as God did with Abraham, so you visit the sick; just as the Eternal comforts the bereaved as God did with Isaac, so you comfort the bereaved; just as the Eternal buries the dead as God did with Moses, so you bury the dead.” We are invited to be imitatio die (imitators of God), living out Jewish values by acting in ways that God has acted. Simply put, (as we learn in the Midrash), “Just as the Eternal One is gracious and compassionate, so you be gracious and compassionate.”
Jill’s Coats for Kids
Jill’s Coats for Kids was the creation five years ago of two Congregation Or Ami (Calabasas, CA) kids, 12-year-old Sabrina and 9-year-old Chelsea Stone, two Or Ami California kids, who collected over 150 coats last winter to bring warmth to needy children. According to their website,www.jillscoatsforkids.com, they created this organization in honor of their “grandmother, Jill Stone, who started a coat drive in Dallas, Texas. We thought it would a good idea to help children who need coats in our community, too.” Jill’s Coats for Kids emulates the Jewish values we work so diligently through our Or Ami Center for Tikkun Olam to instill in the hearts and minds of our children.
The girls’ dad Rob Stone explained:
This has been a fantastic experience for Sabrina and Chelsea and a great reminder that this time of year is about giving and helping others and not all about shopping and getting presents. They have personally distributed some of the coats to the children over the years and they loved seeing their faces light up when they get a new coat.
Jill’s Coats for Kids goads us to take a simple act – donating our old, used coats to people in need – and thereby be gracious and compassionate. In doing so, we raise up others and then our own lives toward holiness. As we declare whenever we say a blessing – asher kiddishanu b’mitzvotav – who makes us holy through sacred actions – when we do holiness, we become holy.
Please Act Now
So I invite you to emulate the Holy One and help clothe modern day Adams (and Eves and their descendants). Clean out your closets of old and used coats, and bring them to Congregation Or Ami by December 24th. Sabrina and Chelsea Stone and their parents with ensure that the coats get to people who need them. (If you cannot get over to Or Ami, contact Rob Stone and he will arrange to pick them up.)
We may not succumb to frostbite in our 54 degree weather, but we do sense the discomfort. Let’s help others survive the frost that surrounds us by warming them with our coats and our compassion.
Whatcha Waiting For??
Head over to Jill’s Coats for Kids where your most pressing questions will be answered.
Or read about last year’s donation drive.