Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A Few Statistics regarding Orphans.

Have you ever stopped to think how many orphans there are in the world? Have you ever stopped to think what happens in the life of an orphan?

The exact experience for every orphan is different as situations differ and every person is, of course, unique.

Here are a few stats:

UNICEF defines an orphan as someone who has lost one or both parents.

  • Total estimated number of orphans worldwide:  163 million
  • Estimated number that have lost only their mother: 34.5 million
  • Estimated number that have lost only their father: 101 million
  • Estimated number of “double orphans”:  18.5 million 
  • 95% of all orphans are over the age of 5 years. 
  • In 2005 132 million orphans were found in Sub-Sahran Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribean
    (Source: UNICEF) Did you know that the stats are so high? What is your first thought when you see these numbers, many of which go back to 2005 /2007                                                                                                                         

Publicity to our Campaign and More

We've been working hard on this crowd fundraiser. We have been mentioned on a few blogs. We were featured in the "In Jerusalem" of the Jerusalem Post on Friday 24 July 2015. We have even been mentioned by Mayim Bialik. Sadly, it does not seem to be enough to encourage Jews to open their hearts to the needs of an orphan at the time she gets married. What does it take to soften the hearts of those who like to give?

Today is the last day of our crowd fundraiser. Currently the 60 bridal gowns are sitting at the dry cleaner, most of them have been cleaned. We still need funds to pay the dry cleaner. We recently obtained a mirror through the donation of one individual! Once the dry cleaner bill is paid, we URGENTLY need funds for 3 sturdy clothes stands and to pay for additional rent for the extra space required to set this up.

We have received an offer from a bridal store in New York to send us a few bridal gowns. What a wonderful offer! Can you imagine a Kallah who does not have a father or a mother or both being given the opportunity to select a brand new bridal gown that is New York standard, as a gift for her wedding day?! Yes, it has to be returned already cleaned, but what a saving, what a kindness. What will it take for others to comprehend the Mitzvah that is taking place here. The kindness, the joy that YOU can give to another. 

We invite you to join us. This is the last day of our campaign and we need all the funds to come in. So I am appealing to Am Yisrael. Here is your chance to do an act that can make a very big difference to the life of another Jew. The life of someone who has already suffered from losing a parent. 

I have tried a few options to end this post but I am left wondering "What words do you need to hear that will inspire you to help an orphan?"

Everyone deserves a chance at life. Everyone deserves a chance at happiness. Please be a part of bringing happiness to the world. Remember, if you help one orphan, you have helped a whole world. 

Please donate TODAY and donate generously. Time is of the essence. We need to move beyond just raising funds to set this up and get to help the orphan Kallot that this Gemach is set up to assist. For those needing a tax receipt, we have an affiliation with two different organizations to provide tax receipts for those donating via Check. Please be in touch if this is what holds you back from assisting.

Thank you to all who care and to all who donate.

Shoshanah Shear
Co-Director of Chessed Ve'Emet

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Free Bridal Gowns to Orphan Kallot




Everyone loves to see a beautiful bride! It puts a smile on one's face or brings a tear to the eye! Most little girls dream of their wedding day and happily act out being a bride in their beautiful white bridal gown!

Imagine for a moment a bride-to-be having to arrange her wedding alone... Her beloved father, mother or both are no longer in this world. She may or may not have received any inheritance. Imagine approaching the most important day of anyone's life, without loving parents and sometimes other family too.

At Chessed Ve'Emet, we know the dreams of the little girl and just how important it is for every bride to have a beautiful wedding, even if it is a small one. At Chessed Ve'Emet we believe that everyone has the right to begin their new home in dignity.

As a result we have established an addition to our Bayit Chadash Wedding Project. We have 60 bridal gowns which will be loaned free of charge to orphan Kallot (Jewish brides) marrying and setting up their home in Israel. We have a dream of a very special centre that will help orphan brides and grooms (Kallot and Chatanim) in a meaningful and unique manner, taking all their needs into account. If we could fulfil our full dream, this will include empowering orphans to have a good strong income as they begin their new phase of married life.

We invite you to be a part of making something very special happen! Please visit our crowd fundraiser (http://igg.me/at/bridal-gown-gemach) where you can learn more about this awesome project, make a generous donation and share the link with your friends.  For more about the activities of Chessed Ve'Emet, see our main web page www.lovingkindness.co

Thank you for your kindness.

Shoshanah Shear

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Mirror Arrives

As the day draws to an end, we have had some special progress. We have obtained a full length mirror on a stand! It is solid wood, adjusts as one can tilt it backwards or forwards and it is just what we need for our developing Bridal Gown Gemach

The story of how this one came to us, is special, just like everything in our Gemach. I'll have to write it up, but for now, all I can do is sit here and smile with a very big thank you to all those involved in helping this to come to our Gemach. And, a VERY BIG Thank You to Hashem for directing everything down to the last detail. 

As I write this I am so very grateful to be able to look at the list of items we need in order to make the Bridal Gown Gemach section of our work a reality and to say: "Portable full length mirror / full length mirror on stand" Tick, yes, we got it.

We have just a few more days left of our crowd fundraiser. Having the full length mirror helps us to feel this is real. It's really happening.

Thanks for everyone who has taken part. Please make a contribution and share our campaign. 

Have a blessed evening

Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

Reflections



Today is my late father's Yartzheit, so I decided to post a few reflections.


In other posts I have mentioned that most little girls dream of being a bride. If you take a look at the streets in Israel at Purim time, a large percentage of the little girls dress up as Kallot (brides). I too dreamed of the day I would marry. I dreamed of starting my own home and my own family. I dreamed of walking to Chuppah with my father and mother (I did not know the custom some have of mothers to walk with the Kallah and fathers to walk with the Chatan). Still I dreamed of both parents being there. I dreamed of my father singing at my Chuppah. My father had the most beautiful singing voice. Such a rich, deep voice. I loved to hear him sing in the choir, or on his own. He had acted in musicals too and his singing was so special. I dreamed of my own Abba (father) being at my wedding and participating in a meaningful way.

I dreamed of picking out the bridal gown that I would really want and receiving a blessing from my father once I was all dressed up in my bridal dress. 

My dreams went on but they were dreams that had to be adapted. My father left this world 31 years ago today. I have not found anyone who knew him who has his singing voice recorded. I could not have him walk me to Chuppah or sing at my wedding or give me a blessing or give me advice or meet my Chatan. 

It took me years to find a Jewish husband and when I did, sadly life had sent me so many knocks that I could not pay for a basic wedding. I could not afford a simple bridal dress. Most people I turned to for help refused.

One kindness that stands out was that I was given the opportunity to borrow a bridal dress, veil and full petticoat at the cost of only the dry cleaning. I remember going to the Gemach with my sister-in-law and being overwhelmed by the rows and rows of dresses.

I looked at a few dresses and some were OK but not quite what I liked. Then my sister-in-law tapped me on the shoulder and said "Shoshanah, you have to try on this dress." I took a look at it and smiled. Yes, I had to try on that dress. And I did and the dress fitted perfectly. No need for adjustments, alterations or anything. It was a perfect fit and perfect design. 

We managed to borrow the dress with a suitable veil and petticoat and my sister-in-law hid it in her cottage so that my Chatan would not see it. 

My first wedding date was cancelled due to lack of funds. Finally we had a very simple wedding. There were aspects that were hard, and some even harder, but the dress was beautiful and I felt special in it. 

At the wedding, someone somehow caught the petticoat of my dress when trying to move my chair and it ripped a bit. A lady I did not know came up and ripped it further, then along came another and pinned this long rip up under my dress. I felt dreadful. My heart sank. My precious dress and petticoat were now damaged. They were borrowed. I had no sewing machine to repair them, no means to pay a seamstress and was in a panic from that moment until I spoke to the ladies of the Gemach. They were so kind, they accepted the dress back (cleaned of course) and torn petticoat too. "It's OK," she said, "we'll take care of it." And at that moment somewhere inside of me I thought, that was so kind, someday, some how I want to help an orphan like that too. I want to provide another orphan with the most beautiful bridal gown and to tell her "don't worry if it tears, we will take care of that for you. Wear it in good health and may your wedding and marriage be blessed."

It's been hard to get our Gemach off the ground, as we began with no contacts, no space to do it, no resources, just a few ideas and a desire to do something meaningful in the merit of my father that would turn my heartache to good. But we have done it and now the amazing thing happened. Now Hashem has provided an answer to one hidden wish. Now we have 60 bridal gowns and they are so nearly ready for Kallot to be able to wear them in good health and enjoy feeling like a queen. So close and yet so far.

Thank you for reading my own story. Please, make a contribution and help us make this dream a reality. I did not have my father at my wedding, not in person, but through helping other orphan brides I have the comfort that somehow in a mystical way I can help my father wherever he might be. I do not understand the life after this one. It is too mysterious. But Torah teaches that doing something in the merit of a loved one brings an elevation to their soul.

I would really love to have my father with me in person, but sadly that can not be. But he is with me in another very real way. And if we can just get through this last hurdle and have the bridal gowns dry cleaned, purchase the sturdy clothing racks, come up with funds to rent larger space, then every time an orphan Kallah (bride) borrows a bridal gown, I can know, that somehow, in this beautiful mystical way, my father has benefited. No it is not the same as having him at my wedding in person, but it is the only practical thing I can do to interact with the talented, intelligent man who is my father. 

My late father loved life. He went through a phase of saying every day is my birthday because today I was born a new. In truth, this is what every Jew should feel as they recite the Modei Ani blessing in the morning. The world is a very big place and I can not help everyone, but helping other orphan Kallot to begin their life a new with blessing and beauty and kindness is one small thing that I strive to do.

So please join us in making this happen. You can donate via our crowd fundraiser

Or if you live in Israel, Canada or the U.S.A we have formed a connection with two organizations to help us provide tax receipts. Method of donating differs depending where you are from. If you do not wish to donate via our crowd fundraiser, please be in touch and we can let you know the method to donate. 

Thank you for your kindness

Together we can make a better world. Every kind act can bring us closer to the Moshiach, a time for Techias HaMeisim where everyone can be re-united with their loved ones. A time where Every orphan can be re-united with their parent(s). A time where no-one need feel alone again. A time where there will be peace and love and unity.

Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet 


Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Day 16 of our Crowd Fundraiser.


We are busy, busy busy, networking to spread the word about our bridal gown Gemach. I just got off the phone with someone in our area who was so excited she wanted to let Kallot know immediately about what we are doing. It is wonderful to hear this but our problem is we can not show the dresses until they are set up. 

Oh dear! Calling those in our area is certainly helping to let families know that our Gemach is progressing, but the contributions are slow and very small amounts. We are very, very grateful for every donation, but URGENTLY need to get larger donations coming in. Our difficulty is the time for our crowd fundraiser is ticking away and so far we have reached only 3% of what we need to make this a reality. We need some volunteers to help to spread the word. 

If anyone reading this is in America or Canada, we have the opportunity to provide tax receipts for donations from US or Canada. However, I'm not from either country so if you are connected on an email list or have some friends who might be interested, please share the info of what we are doing and have them be in touch with us for more information. Or you can share the link to our crowd fundraiser.

If you know anyone able to donate sturdy clothing racks, full length mirror and / or mannequins, that would help a whole lot too. 

This post is prepared for you by 
Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

Monday, 13 July 2015

Day 15 of our Crowd Fundraiser

We are 15 days into our crowd fundraiser. 

It is very special to see some progress, but sadly no where near enough. In the meantime we have had an inquiry from the mother of a Kallah (who is orphaned from her father) and will be in need of a bridal gown of size 44. We do not have a bridal gown of size 44 so if you know of anyone who has and is willing to donate her bridal gown, please refer her to us.

We are also starting to receive calls from people wanting a Kallah to come and view our dresses. It is hard to say: "I am very sorry, but the dresses are currently at the dry cleaner and we can not have them back until we can pay for them and have 3 sturdy clothes racks to hang them on effectively. In addition, we can not put the clothing racks in our Salon, we need the funds to move our Bayit Chadash Gemach and the beginnings of our bridal gown Gemach to appropriate premises."

So for those who clearly enjoy spreading the news, please let your friends know that we URGENTLY need monetary contributions in order to set up the bridal gowns and then we will be very happy to begin to show them to Kallot.

Please note, for those donating their dress / bridal gown, our dresses are all modest in keeping with Torah requirement. Any dress donated that is not modest needs to be suitable for adapting to become modest.

Thank you for your assistance. We look forward to updating you of the next development

Have a blessed day

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Progress of our Bridal Gown Gemach

We have 3 of our dresses sponsored for dry cleaning and pledges for a further 3-4 dresses. Not sure when the pledges will come in. In working on how to bring in the necessary funds to set up our bridal gown Gemach, I decided to do a little research of what a good bridal gown store looks like. I found some lovely places and it is giving me lots of ideas. 

The good side of that is it provides inspiration to keep on with the work required to succeed in this task. The challenge is that we will probably have to revisit our target and make a larger goal. Oh dear, if it has taken us 11 days to come up with 4 donations that will cover dry cleaning of 3 dresses, how are we to reach a larger goal?

For a little fun, a few days ago a friend mentioned that we will be needing more mirrors than just one portable one. "The more the better" was her advice. 

Yesterday, someone donated a mirror and it made me smile.  It seems Hashem heard the "more the better", now we need this expanded to be full length mirrors that we can arrange for Kallot to see what they look like in a bridal gown.




With all this in mind, it's time to get back to networking, making phone calls etc.

If you have not yet seen our campaign, please visit, read up on what we are doing, make a donation and share with your friends.

Just for fun, please post at the bottom here what your ideal bridal store experience would be. You can also email me if you prefer to keep your thoughts private and not online.

Have a blessed day and do come back to hear more of the progress in our bridal gown Gemach

Shoshanah Shear

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Attitudes Towards A Jewish Woman Covering Her Hair

I'm saddened to be writing this blog post, but I feel that there are some points that are important to highlight.

Recently we put out a video to explain our work with orphan Chatanim and Kallot and our exciting addition to what we are doing. I understand we will receive comments to what we are doing, but some I do not appreciate or comprehend. I am receiving criticism (from several women) about the type of head covering I am wearing in the video. In the video I have a scarf on over a coloured sock (as it is called). Some say if I am to do a video, I have to wear a Sheital (wig). Actually, I did have a Sheital for a short time when I first got married. It was a synthetic one so did not last very long. Surprise, surprise, when I first got married, there were some who complained that I wore a Sheital and not a scarf or hat or Tichel.There are some women who have not spoken to me since seeing me in a Sheital and do not know that currently I do not have one as they are rather expensive and my budget does not allow for it.

I took this issue to a few groups to ask what other women wear and what they feel about what the head covering of another is. 

As far as what women wear, we had a range of responses:
Some wear a Sheital, some wear a head scarf, some a bandana, some a Tichel (sorry, I do not know an English word to explain that), some wear a hat. Some show some of their hair, some do not show any of their hair. Some do not cover their hair at all. 

How did they decide what to wear?

For many, it comes from family tradition. For some, it is due to the Hashkafa that they follow. For some it is what their husband likes or what his Hashkafa is. Most women did not mind what the other women wear. 

There are some who wear Sheitals, who are angry or against other women who do not wear Sheitals and vice versa. There are some who feel that how you cover your hair makes a statement as to your level of observance.

A few comments made, make a lot of sense to me:
A friend Nedivah commented that: "Very often or perhaps most often, to wear or not to wear a Sheitel has nothing to do with money. It's more a matter of family tradition, culture, self image, life style, religious background etc." She also states: "Each woman must decide for herself. It is between her, her husband and their rabbi mentor. Surely not my business."

A friend Wendy stated "I don't feel that it has anything to do with me how others choose to cover their hair."

Dana adds a valuable thought: "I personally don't have a problem with anyone covering or not covering their hair with anything they choose, and people telling off others for their choices is just another way of turning Mitzvot into a tool of Machloket, which is absolutely disgusting." 

Ilene adds: "I do not care how anyone covers their hair or if a woman does not cover her hair. Nor do I care about how anyone else dresses. I think the issue is a personal issue and each person should decide what is best for them."

Yael sums it up with: "I don't care how a woman covers her head because I have studied history and realize that our internecine fighting pretty much always leads to tragedy and I ain't got time for that"

There were other valuable points but at the end of the day, let us take a look at what Hallachah (Torah law) states. Rabbi Rapoport a Dayan in South Africa said on a radio show, that the important thing is for a married Jewish woman to cover her hair. If she wishes to, she can even use an upside down pot. Meaning that how she covers her hair does not matter, what matters is that her hair is covered.

In an age where gay marriage has been legalized in the U.S. as a statement of accepting the personal desires of others, surely a cause such as one helping orphan Kallot (Jewish brides) to have the enjoyment of wearing a beautiful bridal gown is more important than what type of head covering the woman in the video is wearing. 

If the head covering is really going to sway you as to whether to either contribute or to share the campaign, then that is proving how much work we have to do in order to attain unity in Am Yisrael. The only way I can think of to increase unity is through increasing in acts of loving kindness and what greater kindness is there than to help an orphan who is getting married to marry with dignity?

So at the end of the day, why don't we drop our prejudices and concentrate on the cause. The Mitzvah of helping an orphan bride is a very big one. What better way is there than helping her have a beautiful bridal gown to wear at cost of maximum the dry cleaning fee after enjoying her special day.

This post is prepared by Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet 

Monday, 6 July 2015

Progress of our Campaign to Develop our Bridal Gown Gemach



We are 8 days into our campaign towards setting up our bridal gown Gemach. So far we are doing a lot of networking. Have 3 blogs agree to share what we are doing, I am waiting to hear if the posts have gone out. If anyone has a blog related to Torah outreach, Jewish weddings, Hachnasat Kallah, please be in touch to host a blog post related to our bridal gown Gemach. In return we can put a link to your blog on this blog.

As far as donations goes, we have received two donations of US$18 each. The bridal gowns are currently at the dry cleaners which costs ₪80 per gown, approximately $20 each. That means we need another $4 to cover the cost of cleaning two of the bridal gowns.

We had an offer for two sturdy clothes racks which sadly fell through so we are back to needing funds to purchase new ones unless we obtain a donation of sturdy clothes racks to display the bridal gowns.

We are still searching for the most appropriate mannequin. In terms of full length mirror, we'd prefer a portable one. 

Then comes the next biggie, we need to move all of this to suitable premises. We are starting to keep a look out for apartments or store space. 

It's all very exciting. Please visit our campaign and share the link. Make a donation to help us to reach our goal. Every donation is very much appreciated.

Thank you for your kindness

Shoshanah Shear

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

What is Your First Thought When Seeing a Bride on her Wedding Day?

While we are working on the next phase of setting up our bridal gown Gemach, I wondered what people think when seeing a Kallah on her wedding day. I decided to post a question in a few groups on FaceBook. Here are a few of the positive comments, I have not included names of those who posted them.

"Thank G'd, another Bat Israel that found her half Neshama is getting married! Angel!!!"

"Oh what a day.....enjoy"

"Mazal tov and good luck."

"I think every Kalla should be told that davening in your wedding day is like having a blank canvas- you can paint whatever picture you want"

"She's gorgeous ! Someone's lucky and Baruch Hashem." 

"Memories of my own wedding day and feeling the world was filled with endless joy and possibility"

These comments were beautiful and heartwarming. Sadly, some of the other comments were rather negative. How can anyone look at a bride on her wedding day and think anything but something positive? I guess that shows how low we have fallen and the extent of the Sinas Chinam. It also shows how so many project their negative experiences in life onto others, for no reason. Why not think something positive? Why not look at the beauty of what is happening and think of blessings for the couple or pray that they be blessed? A positive thought is good for the person thinking it as well as for the one it is being thought of.

What is your first thought when you see a bride on her wedding day? Are you able to see the good?

We'd love to hear your thoughts. We'd prefer to hear positive thoughts. If you have had a hard experience, please don't presume that everyone's wedding or marriage will be negative.  

This post is prepared for you by Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

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