Thursday, 2 November 2017

November 2, 2017


Yasher koach! When someone performs a mitzvah or a good deed they are sometimes congratulated by these words. Rabbi Grover explains, “Translated, the wish is that the person should have honourable strength. We wish that nobody rest on his/her laurels, but instead focus on future accomplishments performed with strength and honour.”

And so begins our 18th season next Tuesday, November 7th. Our volunteer roster is full and, lucky for us, we even have a list of alternates. But remember, this great news should not deter anyone from finding other ways to contribute. Encourage others to run a food drive, small or large. Collect adult sized gloves and hats. Straight out monetary donations or donation cards can be made by calling Beth Jacob Synagogue, 905-522-1351. Seriously needed: toiletries in sample sizes or mid sizes to fill our Chanukah loot bags.

Our host church, St Mary’s, has been renovated. It is so bright, accessible for all, ‘new just about everything’ including the Hall Manager, Celso, who will instruct us on the latest procedures. Our guests will also be impressed by the updated space and thrilled to see all of you again.

Housekeeping and ‘Just-the-Facts’

The new kitchen door to the church is on lock mode all the time. Please knock OR call the numbers below for entry OR you may enter by the guests’ door if arriving after 4 pm.

If you are ill, G-d forbid, or unable to make your morning/early afternoon shift, please text/call Cindy, 905 317-7606.

If your shift is 3:45 to 6:30 pm, confirm by text/call with Norma 905 906-5102.

Volunteer Information Forms
 If you’re a newbie or your previous emergency volunteer form needs updating, please print the attached, complete and return to Cindy or Norma.

 *north on Bay, past Cannon, right on Sheaffe   *enter by kitchen door, east side of building   *after 4 pm you may enter by guest entrance (west side) *parking in the lot; ask Cindy for a seasonal parking pass.


Please remember this may be a rare, “home-cooked” meal for many of our guests. As in our own homes, we model the same hospitality, creating a welcoming ambiance, serving efficiently and generously.  Offer seconds when possible, as guest may be embarrassed to ask, and take your time removing dishes and cutlery.

If guests wish to help out, diplomatically explain to them that they are “guests” and as such, are expected only to enjoy the evening.

In chatting with guests, do so only in the dining room, preferably with a partner.  Enjoy brief “neutral” topics.  Do not share your last name and personal information. If you perceive a concern, contact Cindy, Norma or security.

There is no secure volunteer room available in this location.  Coats can be hung in the kitchen cupboard.  It is advisable to leave valuables at home. Offer a ride home to a volunteer who is alone or walking. If you are working the “last shift”, please stay until the end, helping with the final clean-up duties, which are less challenging if we all work together.

Should you have any suggestions, you know we're ready to listen. This is an important group effort; we can evolve so that your time and focus is most meaningful.

One last lesson before you ask your muscles to recall those Out of the Cold exercises – Upon receiving a heartfelt Yasher Koach, the proper response is Baruch Tihiyeh meaning "May you be blessed."    

See you Tuesday.  

Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Pre-Kol Nidre Thoughts


This past Tuesday, Norma and I had the great pleasure to meet with the Very Reverend Monsignor Edward Sheridan of St Mary’s Church as well as with Censo Sardinia, the new manager of the renovated, accessible, modern parish hall. We won’t keep you guessing any longer. WE ARE RETURNING TO ST. MARY’S!

It was a meeting of information regarding the new systems of use in the building with limited compromise, (I say) for now. Understandable. With new beginnings, comes discovery and we hope to create welcoming insights to things that may seem, at first, strange.

There is no doubt that the Church is 100% in favour of having OOTC serve those in our community who are in need; however, Monsignor Sheridan felt that the City of Hamilton should play a more active role providing for the poor instead of sitting back and letting OOTC-like programs deal with this reality. With all due respect, I explained, our guests join us for a multitude of reasons, far more complicated than receiving a monthly cheque from the government or municipality. A discussion ensued, and with gratitude, in this case, we are blessed to know that other people don’t have to agree with you to be embraced by you.

This is about social trust, about building a community and you can’t do that if your criteria for community is if you have to agree with me. The only way to do it, is to make room for discussion. Let’s all have our say.

There are many interpretations to the reason Jews take three steps back at the end of the kaddish (prayer.) “God who makes peace in the Heavens, make peace among us and among all Israel and the world, Amen.”

Here’s one interpretation from Rabbi Wolpe. When we pray, we can create peace, but in order to create peace, sometimes we have to take a step back. To let them in, allow them to have their say, have a discussion. If you take their hand and step back you will discover there is a lot to talk about.

For the last month, Jews have been priming ourselves to take an accounting of our relationships with one another and our personal relationship with G-d. In just a couple of hours, many of us will be making our way to synagogues and temples for Kol Nidre followed by Yom Kippur services tomorrow. As we start our self-imposed Fast tonight, we can also think about our guests who do not always have the same choice.

Gmar hatimah tova. May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for Good. Wishing you a sweet new year, with abundant happiness and health!

Cindy and Norma

Saturday, 1 April 2017

April 2, 2017

Hi Vacationing Volunteers,

There's always a pang of regret as we send off our guests after their last OOTC meal of the season. If only we could keep on cooking and just send their meals by Just Eat food delivery; however, it couldn't come close to the personal deliveries you have so generously accomplished. That's just one of the reasons you need to attend The Volunteer Appreciation Night Dinner, Thurs. April 20th, flyer attached.  Please RSVP ASAP to Norma or

We have the greatest respect and appreciation for three wonderful people: Norma, our coordinator of volunteers who along with Mark sticks around to the shiny and tidied end every Tuesday night, and to Peter, retired from the Hamilton Police Department, our security person who has kept us all in check, welcoming everyone who comes to our little dinner parties.
We wish to thank Christ’s Church Cathedral for their hospitality and kindness for taking in 60 volunteers who had nowhere else to go. Because OOTC is there Saturday (shout out to Sherry and her gang for allowing us to share) and Tuesdays, our 1,956 guests put a lot of wear and tear on that good church of theirs and that’s why we are so doubly grateful.

Did you RSVP yet?  Thanks. Now, put your feet up and enjoy the article Best of Jewish Hamilton: Out of the Cold in the Passover edition of The Hamilton Jewish News.  It's quite the cherry on the top of our 17th Season.

In all seriousness, it's shameful that in Hamilton, a privileged city, there is such a high rate of poverty.  This message has been repeated over and over again for so long. However, two important events will take place this week. City Council will vote on $50 million for the repair of unused housing units, housing allowances, shelter diversion strategies, indigenous-led strategies for poverty and homelessness, “wraparound” help for single parents with everything from child health to employment to recreation programs and finally, for nurse-family partnerships. Also, this week's 3-day conference “Cities Reducing Poverty When Business is Engaged” takes place in Hamilton. It will demonstrate how businesses of all sizes can engage in addressing poverty — through inclusive hiring practices, living wages and more.  Oh, how we pray for their success.

So to all of you who took on this task and gave their time and energy with selfless desire, thank you. Chag Pesach Sameach, Happy Easter, Happy Spring and Summer; see you in the Fall.  And as it is written on our menu board each week, “ENJOY!”


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

March 22, 2017

Shhhhh..... don't tell anyone. We may have exceeded the number of persons allowed in Christ's Church Cathedral's hall.

The number of guests just kept on climbing and seemed stuck for a while on a Gretzky (our way of saying #n-n,) but then Rob arrived, balloons fell from the ceiling (only kidding), followed by our Russian friend, Rasputin, (not really his name) who took us right to (Roman) CI.  Interestingly, in life, it’s natural to ask, “How many people did you feed?” “What’s the final number for the wedding?” “How many fans for the game?” However, in Jewish practice, there’s a prohibition on counting Jews. Many sources can be cited for this practice; I like these three.

When the Jews escaped from Egypt and began their journey through the desert to the Land of Israel, G‑d requested that a census be carried out, but not in the conventional way. G‑d commanded each person to give a half of the ancient shekel coin in a nationwide collection, following which Moses would count the coins and know how many Jews there were.

The number of children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which shall neither be measured nor counted. Hosea 2:1

This prohibition emphasizes the uniqueness of each human being. A person’s unique qualities can never be reduced to some numerical quantity.

As we get set to end our 2016/2017 season next Tuesday, you have mentioned that, ever since we survived the January St Mary’s flood and moved to CCC’s smaller hall, it was a shame that, overall, we fed fewer guests. It saddens us deeply to think that many of our regulars were hesitant to move with us to an overcrowded replacement site. However, we must understand that it would have been physically challenging and/or psychologically distressing to some. Each individual is sacred; each person’s hunger is inimitable. We did our best and we know that it made a difference. THAT is something we can all count on.

More about last night. We usually serve dinner at 5 pm but Peter, our security man, showed us who's the boss, and said that we'd better empty the ovens at 4:50 before 'things' got out of hand.

Food is love and the romance was on for the sweet potato & lentil soup, meatloaf, chickpea/veg/couscous salad, coleslaw, pasta and fruit proving once again that the cooks have more than time on their hands, passion in their hearts and the needs of others on their minds!

Finally, some friendly reminders with flyers attached:
This Saturday night, the fundraising concert for OOTC at Erskine Presbyterian.
The Annual Volunteer Dinner – Thurs. April 20 – RSVP by March 31 – please come; you'll be the best of the approximately 15 x Chai in attendance!


Sunday, 12 March 2017

March 12, 2017

Chag Sameach!!

Hope your Purim is awesome.  This update covers the whole megillah!  Ugh. So many updates, invitations, announcements.

Thanks to the B'nei mitzvah classes from Beth Jacob Synagogue and Temple Anshe Sholom. There has never been better assembled Purim mishloach manot and bags of toiletries, ever! After he described himself as a hellion when he was their age, our dinner guest Ralph gave the students personal insights of the importance of OOTC on his life. It allows him to save money to purchase other important things like a new pair of pants and running shoes. It helped him to handle social situations as well as connecting him with very nice people, US, and delicious and nutritious meals are consistently offered by our friendly and generous group.

The upcoming Hamilton Jewish News' centre spread will feature our Tuesday OOTC program in its Passover issue. Thank you to editor/reporter, Wendy Schneider, who interviewed so many of our guests and volunteers early in the season. She was so impressed that she became one of our team.
Attached, you're invited to:

1. The Annual Concert for Hamilton Out of the Cold – called "Singing for Supper" - Friday, March 25, 7:30pm at Wednesday's site, Erskine Presbyterian Church. $10 (kids free)  Nikki and Shaun (professional singer and musician) put a tremendous amount of effort into putting the concert together and all proceeds go to OOTC.

2. The VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION DINNER - Thursday, April 20 at a new OOTC site, St Nicholas. Please RSVP to Norma or myself no later than March 31st.

An old friend, Simon, returned to Hamilton and found us at our temporary location. "I'll never forget how when I lived at the Y, you would allow me to have breakfast at James St Baptist, and you'd bring me the newspaper too."

I forgot to show you the Hanukkah message from a table of guests, see attached.

Feeling silly yet? Here's help:

Q: What did Adam tell his kids as to why he no longer lived in Eden?
A:  Your mother ate us out of house and home.

Q:  The ark was built in 3 stories and the top story had a window to let light in, but how did they get light to the bottom 2 stories?
A:  They used flood lights.

Q: Why was Goliath so surprised when David hit him with a slingshot?
A: The thought had never entered his head before.

Finally, my family has a yahrzeit tonight and tomorrow night at 6 pm. If you're around Rabbi Hillel's, 71 MacDonald, tonight and the BJ tomorrow night, that's where minyan and hamantashen will be!
Chag Purim Sameach


Thursday, 23 February 2017

February 23, 2017

Hi ladies and gentlemen,

We've had a first! Well, actually, at least a few firsts for us since we moved over to Christ's Church Cathedral.

My emailed grocery list to Tuesday's 'shopper' went awry, so we arrived with recipes but no food.  (Happily, Food Basics is just down the street.)

All the eggs that were cracked for the meatloaf contained twins. Oy, the cholesterol count !

Our guests numbered over 100 (100 exactly.) There was not a drop, crumb, or empty appetite left anywhere of all the pea soup, meatloaf with mushroom sauce, hot veggies, pasta and bananas!

The warm temperatures this week are setting records. Don't dial back your warmth:guest ratio. They can handle it!

So, not sure if a 'shehechiyanu' is warranted, but go ahead, you deserve it!


February 15, 2017

Hi all

Everything was delicious!! soup to desserts.  One of the 80 guests who hadn't been with us for a few weeks declared, "I just remembered how much I appreciate you guys. There's no place like this OOTC."  Sweet Potato & Red Lentil soup, Southern Fried Chicken, Lasagne, Salad, Brownies with Valentine icing, and their choice of a box of chocolate covered almonds or a Caramilk bar, full-size not those teaser Halloweeners!

After we closed up, I took a homeless man shopping at Giant Tiger. Gotta say, for 8 or 9 years, off and on, Johnny has been around to entertain us with his Kansas City, MI accent, further affected by his alcohol infused breath,  6'5 frame, and flamboyant personality. Bought a comforter and shams with pics of wolves, a pillow, stretch pants for layering and four pairs of thermal socks. We both agreed that dusty rose is a G-d awful colour on any skintone and that G.T. is the bomb!  He was going to 'sleep' next to our CCC which is his parish. Derek, the building manager has granted him permission.  He was afraid of the cold but more fearful if a drunk would come along and beat him up. In the morning, Johnny would hop on a SOBI bike to the Wesley Centre where he'd grab a delicious OOTC breakfast. Did you know that low-income people can grab a bike for free with just a slight time restriction!  All in all, Johnny Rotten (his name for himself)  just can't behave!!!! Banned from the shelters for 2 weeks.  Our shopping spree was not at all awkward but I did ask him if he thought that his life might turn around with some help.  He looked me in the eye, and the for the first time ever, with a serious wide-eyed stare, he said, "Why would I ever set myself up for failure again?" Now, I'm used to people answering my questions with a question. After all, I am Jewish.  But it doesn't make Johnny's future rosy, not even dusty-rosy.

Questions for the cooks:  Who would like to  grocery shop for next week, or the week after?

Comments for everyone:  the daycare that occupies the kitchen really really needs us to avoid using their property unless it is put back perfectly. If you're one of our final shift members, please ask if you're unsure of an item or it's resting place.   Every crumb must be cleaned, every garbage/green bin/blue bin bag put out.  Her job and licence depends on us and her work day is made more difficult when she has to search for things or clean before she begins her day.  Sorry. It's reasonable and she requests all of this with respect and patience and believes in our cause very much.

Finally, thanks for making everyone's Valentines Day very sweet with your positive attitudes, smiles and acceptance.