Friday, 13 January 2017

December 23, 2011

“Happy Harmonica!” said our 7 year old guest Nicholas this past Tuesday night. Our 124 guests shared in our Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, by kindling the hanukkiah and spreading warmth and light to all present.  They dined on vegetable barley soup, brisket, latkes, salad and roasted vegetables culminating in cupcakes topped with inches of blue icing topped with Hanukkah symbols.

Since the start of our program this season, we have welcomed many new guests who, as it gets colder outside, have slowly warmed up to us and we have warmed to them in ways that some would view as too close, an invasion of privacy. We live in a society in which we are taught to mind our own business. While invasion of privacy is a serious offence in Jewish law, we must not allow respect for privacy to justify being uninvolved and apathetic. We fight for justice if need be; we are willing to stand up to do what's right, whether or not it is politically correct.

This year, Time declared the Person of the Year “The Protester.” The causes for which the many highlighted protesters stand are as numerous as there are ways to spell Hanukkah!  OOTC is a protester too.  We occupy church halls and we discuss and fight poverty with our local leaders, reminding them that the needs of all, especially the underclass are important.  From a meeting last month with Paul Johnson, the Director of Neighbourhood Development Strategies of the City of Hamilton, we learned that the OOTC’s philosophy of forming relationships and providing hospitality is a proven winning strategy. Social connectedness is healthy. Without it, stress becomes a chronic disease.

Woe unto us if we cannot say, "no one came in our midst whom we discharged without food, and whom we did not see, and whom we left without providing an escort.”

If you are still unconvinced about the difference and the impact YOU are making, please read the letter below. The Tuesdays in your lives save lives, enrich lives, sustain lives!

As we light our menorahs for the remainder of the eight days, as others celebrate Christmas, let us recognize the opportunities afforded to us to improve ourselves and our communities.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Shabbat Shalom, Cindy

For the past 15 years, Hamilton’s needy, bereft and woebegone have been guests at yummy food-ins by volunteers at a program called Out of the Cold.  Program coordinators … are the dedicated cherubs deserving of wide angelic wings.   Each week, on six different evenings, 100 or more guests crowd the basements of downtown churches where they are met by humble and cheerful people with positive countenances, warm glows, the welcome aroma of homemade soup, nutritious entrees and dessert treats.  … Coordinators are in charge of all facets of this program: selecting a weekly menu, buying the food, preparing it with love, and allocating kitchen helpers, furniture set-ups, food servers and clean-up staff.  The program is funded entirely by individual donors, not by government grants.   Particularly poignant is the love all the volunteers pour out during these sombre, cold, winter nights, including this Christmas season.   For the guests, it is as though angel dust is sprinkled on those who show up with empty tummies and broken hearts overflowing.   Many of the guests hurt in a way that can’t be put into words.  Many of the guests carry a heavy load of bad luck or tarnished dreams.   If not for this winter program coordinated by angels … , the pitiable, vulnerable and lonely guests forgotten by our larger society would not possess the courage to make it through to another day.   (OOTC volunteers) are very special angels indeed, because they divinely empower and encourage societal outcasts who, especially at Christmastime, live in an internment camp of abject poverty of being.   

Submitted by a guest, Dec. 2011

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