It was a wet and freezing cold night in January – you had to wear a winter hat and gloves so as not to freeze. As I arrived for my shift at the Church with several volunteers from my Synagogue I got to work right away behind the counter. I was the server who would bring warm soup and sandwiches to the kind souls who had come in from the cold and taken a seat waiting for a warm dinner. I did this every Thursday for a year with a group from my Synagogue where I was the Cantor – we participated in the Out of The Cold Program.
Out of the Cold is an interfaith program that strives to respond in a meaningful way to the basic physical needs of shelter, food and warm clothing for the less fortunate members of our society – as well as to respond to the deeply human needs of compassion, dignity and feelings of self-worth.
Out of the Cold was founded in 1987 and has since evolved into an extensive emergency response and homeless prevention program supported by an inter-faith community and a strong volunteer base inspired by its Foundress and Spiritual Director, Sister Susan Mary Moran, OLM.
Out of The Cold Foundation supports the Out of the Cold participating agencies, churches, synagogues and other groups that provide safe havens for the poor and homeless of our society.
The Foundation acts as an umbrella organization to provide financial support for Out of the Cold projects through an Application Funding process. The monies raised by the Foundation from individual and corporate donors are utilized to help fund existing programs and new Out of the Cold initiatives. The Foundation provides income tax receipts.
At CoolCantor, I teach boys and girls – I give them a online Jewish education and help prepare them for their bar and bat mitzvah ceremony. When a student studies with me, I highly encourage them as part of their Jewish learning, to do a social action / mitzvah project.
I am able to speak passionately to my students about OOTC because it was so meaningful and impactful for me. I tell my online bar and bat mitzvah students that there is this incredible feeling when you hand a homeless person a bowl of hot soup in the winter and their eyes lock with your eyes – it’s not even about their gratitude. Their eyes tell you – thank you – you may have saved my life.
When I went to Jewish day school and also spoke with friends who attended Hebrew school – what was missing from that education was the social action component. My online bar and bat mitzvah students know that with me, the focus is not just on the performance part of their special day. Part of becoming a bar and bat mitzvah is making an effort to help improve the world by sharing your kindness and goodness and inspiring people that you come into contact with daily to make this world a better place for all – one hot bowl of soup at a time.