Not all Chicagoland people are natives, and they may not realize what we were born knowing: how to stay warm this winter. Share these tips for surviving Chicago’s Winter 2017 with your neighbors/newcomers, and remember to follow them yourself!

  • Cover feet/hands, wrists/ankles: Thin, cloth gloves are great as your layer under thick, waterproof gloves.
  • Cover your head/face: Wrap a heavy scarf around your head, under your cap or hat. Try to find one long enough that you can cover your lower face, adding another layer of protection.
  • Don’t forget your pets: Sweaters and parkas for your furry friend are advised for intensely cold days.
  • Enjoy a warm drink: You might consider taking a thermos of hot coffee, tea, or lemon water with you if you’re outside for any length of time.
  • Layer clothing: Chicago winds can penetrate the best jackets! You need at least two layers of clothing, and that includes socks and gloves.
  • Protect your lower body: Wear thin, thermal underwear underneath pants. For below zero days, don thicker thermals under and snow pants over.
  • Protect your upper body: An insulated parka that’s rated between -10ºF and 0ºF is a good idea. With its nylon exterior, it will also insulate you from freezing rain.

Sharing the Warmth Within Your Heart

Rabbi Elazar Muskin says we should “love kindness*.” You should not only willingly mitzvah; you should do so with warmth and happiness. Charity begins at home. For some of us, the world is “home,” but for many, home is an address or a country.

“Judaism . . .  must also teach how to tithe with a smile,” says Rabbi Muskin. When you help others, you feel good about yourself! The volunteers and donors who support Maot Chitim of Greater Chicago are not only a blessing; they are blessed!

Even as we rejoice in the gifts God gave us, we need to help those who are cold and hungry. Chicago is home to many members of our Jewish “family” who are elderly, infirm, and needy. For them, home may be a very cold place that could use warmth inside and out.

*Micha 6:8

The National Commission on Hunger was created in 2014 as a legislative mandate to address hunger in the U.S. The actual definition of hunger is when “a member of a household reduces or disrupts what he or she eats because the household does not have the money or resources for food.” Here are some statistics that you may not have known about hunger in the U.S.:

  1. Hunger is Increasing in America – 2010 was the year in which the number of hungry Americans increased, and that number (7 million Americans) has not gone down as of 2017. It’s also a regional problem: North Dakota has low rates of hunger; Arkansas has hunger rates above 8%.
  2. Hunger Knows No Demographic – Women head-of-the-household families are more likely to be needy than male head-of-the-household families. More than 10% of U.S. black households experience hunger than white. Latinos suffer a 6.9% hunger rate, and again, regional differences exist: Southern families are more likely to be hungry than Northeastern families.
  3. Hunger Leads to Illness – Hungry children are more likely to have educational problems and mental health issues. Adults can suffer physical illness due to a lack of nutrition, and hungry seniors are more depressed. Reports indicate that if hunger in America was resolved, healthcare costs would drop.

Help Lessen Hunger

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them
except in the form of bread.

-Mahatma Gandhi

We cannot end hunger as individuals, but when we work together, there is so much we can do! Maot Chitim of Greater Chicago truly needs your help. There are four ways to give:

  1. Donate – There are several ways you can make tax-deductible monetary donations.
  2. Legacy – Make the value of tzedakah your legacy.
  3. Referral – We are a proud people! If you know someone who may need help with food, please complete a referral form so that we may contact them.
  4. VolunteerVolunteers of all ages are welcome to assemble and distribute food packages to needy families.

Call 847-674-3224 or contact us to help end hunger in greater Chicago.

On the holiday of Purim, it is customary to dress in costume to celebrate the victory of the Jews in ancient Persia. Wearing costumes represents how the miracle of Purim was disguised in other events, and helps preserve the dignity of the poor who ask for charity on this holiday.

The Story of Purim

In 4th century BCE, all Jews were part of the Persian Empire which was ruled by King Achashveros. When the king had his wife executed, he remarried a Jewish girl named Ester who kept her identity hidden when she became queen.

The king did not know that his new wife was Jewish, and appointed a man named Haman as prime minister. Haman was known for hating all the Jews, and created a plot to destroy them on a date he chose. Queen Ester discovered the evil plan, and fasted and prayed to G-d. Her prayers were answered, and she revealed her identity to her husband and convinced him to undo the decree and save the Jewish people.

Although it might not seem like a miracle at first glance, the story of Purim shows how G-d’s hand guided events to save the Jewish people. Ester disguised her identity, and the events of Purim disguised His actions to save the Jews. Purim is a miracle in disguise, and so we wear costumes on this day to honor the hidden miracle.

Giving Charity

The second reason to mask your identity on Purim is to help those who ask for charity. It is the heart of our faith to give to those in need, especially on days when we honor His miracles. It is customary to give gifts of food on Purim, to makes sure that all Jewish people can celebrate the holidays with plenty.

Many of the people who need food on this holiday are poor or elderly, and cannot get groceries for themselves. Over one million homes in Illinois are on food stamps, and those people spend their holidays going hungry. Bringing food to those in need brings the Jewish people together on the holy days, and honors G-d’s love and generosity to the Jewish people. Wearing costumes helps to preserve the dignity of those who ask for charity, which is freely given to anyone in need.

Purim is a day to share wealth with those who are less fortunate, by making and giving food to all those in need. The miracle of Purim symbolizes G-d’s guidance in all parts of life, and shows His love and protection. Wearing costumes on this day reflects how His hand may sometimes be hidden, but it is always there to guide us.

Richard Bach said, “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” One of the ways you can respect your elders, your family, and yourself is by discovering the paths your family followed throughout the ages.

Your Greatest Information Resource: Elders

You have an information source of knowledge that is greater than the Internet! The oldest members of your family hold the key to your history, traditions, and heritage. “There’s an undeniable strength in family stories,” says Dana Larsen of Senior Living magazine. Your family history creates stronger bonds between your past and your future.

Statistically, information about families is lost within three generations if it isn’t written down. Here are some of the topics you should discuss with your elders, and don’t forget to document what you learn in addition to sharing it verbally with your family:

  • Family of origin stories
  • Jobs and careers
  • Medical history
  • Personal history
  • Words of wisdom

Your heritage is like a puzzle. The pieces form a complete picture of you, your family, and the journeys that brought history to the present.

Leave a Legacy

When you share your family’s ancestry with younger family members, you leave them an inheritance that they can pass down to future generations. Your history will also continue to live long after you have died when you leave a legacy of hope for future generations by making a bequest or a planned donation to Maot Chitim. Your gift will ensure our 100 years of service to the Jewish community will endure for another century and beyond!

Your bequest will give others the gift of tradition and dignity with kosher foods for the holidays. It will help others to learn that Tzedakah is not just a financial donation – it’s a sharing of self with joy and happiness in the giving!

There are many ways to establish a future charitable gift to Maot Chitim. Call 847-674-3224 or contact us today! Your legacy for the future can someday restore Jewish values, ethics, and dignity to those who need it most.