Monday, November 24, 2008

Charity Begins At Home

I lived for a couple years in NY, where I met my husband. During that time period, I had occasion to go shopping for clothing, and as is the custom in my family, whenever I buy something new, I have to give away something old. Not necessarily old, just something that doesn't fit, seems to have one too many stains, or something that I bought on sale, intending to wear, yet it never seemed to match anything.

So, I trotted down to my neighbor to ask her where there was a gemach in NY for used clothes. She shrugged her shoulders and said that she doesn't know of any.

So I asked someone else- again, same response.
One person said she knows one family who collects shoes, but not clothing. And the shoes have to be brand new.

I kept asking, and asking- no one seemed to have a clue. There were no drives going on, no advertisements for a giant collecting agency, or for a day to drop gently used clothing off. Nothing.

So, I sent my clothing back to my home town, where there is a dedicated woman who operates a clothing collection out of one room in her house, and sends it to Israel. It's done anonymously, she just receives garbage bags at her front door, and then sends it off.

Shame. I wish I could have given to an NY gemach, but I guess that they are much harder to find.

Israel on the other hand- is totally the opposite. I received a letter just yesterday, advertising the used clothing collection place in my neighborhood. Open up a directory- the Israeli one, or the Newcomer's Guide- and you'll see thousands of gemachs, hundreds of clothing collection agencies- and some for things I never would have thought of. Free loan funds- check. Gowns for chasunas- check.

But have you ever heard of a breast milk gemach? That one startled me a bit- until I heard about the family that runs it.

It seems that there are babies born who's mothers don't have enough milk for them. Not only that, but some of these babies have major allergies, to common food products- making them allergic to most formulas.

So, this family started a gemach. Nursing mothers, who are willing to go on a strict diet (no wheat, soy, sugar, dairy, specific vegetables....) do that for 2-3 days, and then pump extra milk for these babies. The milk goes to this family, where they store it, and then give it to those babies in need. That way, they can live on breast milk, which is perfect for their digestive systems, until they can figure out a way past their allergies.

Who would have thought of this? First of all, the family that did- is exceptional- thinking of something like that, and then implementing it. Second of all- the mothers that do this are also exceptional- not eating their favorite foods, and not for their own child, but for someone else's.

Mi K'amcha Yisroel.

Here are some phenomenal articles about charity in Israel- from if you're interested in further reading- and if you're looking for a worthwhile charitable contribution):

The Chicken Lady, Mission to Care, Dining with Dignity, Out of the Mouth of Roni(ZAKA), Jerusalem's Supermen, Henny's Secret (Machlis Family)


arnie draiman said...

great! and for mitzvah tzedakah ideas, check out:

all organizations have been vetted by yours truly, so i can personally guarantee that they are efficient and effective users of your sacred tzedakah shekels.

arnie draiman

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

There are a gazillion gemachs in Israel for everything you can imagine.

Plata gmachs (for shabbat)
silverware and plate gemachs
tablecloth gemachs
Yad Sarah's medical equipment gemach

Basically, there isn't anything in Israel you cant find in a geamch.

In fact, there's even a Husband Gemach! (for example, your husband's away on business and you need someone to kill a jook :)

nmf #7 said...

LOL! Thanks, Jameel- that put a smile on my face for the day :)

But- is it even possible to kill a Juk? They tend to be pretty resilient.

OOH- the word verification is Mishle- I think that is the first time I've gotten a recognizable word! Is there something Shlomo HaMelech has to say on Juks and what we can learn from them?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

nmf 7: When you're here long enough, you learn the tricks on how to squash them. I have even killed jukim with my bare feet (much to everyone's disgust, but at least I killed the jook!)

On the other hand, its slightly harder to kill the big, flying ones...

Glad you liked the video :-)