Monday, 16 January 2017

January 16, 2017

More great news! With a little more discussion and coordination, we're now able to open at Christ's Church Cathedral at 4 pm ! 4 pm 4 pm!! Do arrive a little earlier for your shifts, only if possible! Are you as excited as I am? Cindy

Sunday, 15 January 2017

January 15, 2017

Shavuah Tov, literally in Hebrew, "Good Week" or "Have a good week!"

So first, let's recognize that starting this week in the Torah, we begin to read from the Book of Exodus. Nice foreshadowing, God!  

We're on the move starting this Tuesday. The extent of the damage resulting from the flooding at St Mary's was not minimal. We can only hope that their space is quickly restored and their wonderful, active and hospitable community can once again gather in their glorious space.

In the meantime, Christ Church Cathedral has generously offered us temporary space. CCC has been an OOTC host church on Saturday nights for a number of years. When approached for help, The Very Rev. Peter Wall did not hesitate to do a kindness for us, for our guests, and for God. Chesed v'emet. Love/Kindness and Truth. It's quite a turn for us, a group that does good, to be treated with such faithful kindness. We are so very grateful.

Their address is 252 James Street North, just north of the Armouries. If driving, please park in the back lot accessible from Hughson St., or find street parking. From the lot, walk along the pathway between the playground and main church building. Straight ahead there's a lovely old door. Press the white buttoned doorbell for entry. Once inside, keep turning right until you are met by security and/or find the parish hall :) Particularly at night, please pay attention to your surroundings at all times, buddy up, if possible and leave personal belongings at home. 

In order to accommodate the families leaving from the on-site daycare and the arrival of our guests, we will open for our guests at 5 pm. There will not be a soup course - at least not for now, just straight into a delicious main course. The parish hall is much smaller than that of St. Mary's with a seating capacity of 80, therefore, patiently waiting guests will be seated (once they tip the maitre d', or) after first-comers have eaten and left. If your shift usually starts just before 4 pm, please arrive instead at 4:15 for an orientation.  Some of us shadowed CCC's OOTC cooks/setting up/serving/clean up teams today. We're now equipped with their experience and, with our usual humour and countless personal opinions of the Jewish kind, we'll do just fine!!!

See you on Tuesday.



Friday, 13 January 2017

January 4, 2017

Hello dear cooks!

Wonderful to report that yesterday Shirley moved to Shalom Village Convalescence Care to recuperate from her surgery. Moving around with ease, including cutting vegetables for large dinner soirees, is difficult. However, physio starts tomorrow morning and will continue every weekday morning. Her spirits are very high and she's ready to work hard. Refuah shleimah, Shirley!

Not to be outdone in the 'strength and determination' department, at lunch yesterday, the cooks convincingly put forward a request for a new food processor. Joanne will speak with Susan who may know the best product at the best price. The cooks also requested that I spread the word that anyone wishing to make any contribution, Joanne will collect and if there's a shortage, there will not be a problem covering it from our OOTC funds.

So, due to the above exhibitions of gratitude, generosity and effort, I was reminded of this great d'var by Rabbi Wolpe. Hope you like it! Stay warm and see you next Tuesday.


Why Me? 
A psychiatrist received the following postcard from a vacationing former patient: "Having a wonderful time. Why?" It is a good question. I have often observed that people come to my office when bad things happen and wonder why God permitted this difficulty in their lives. But far less often do I hear, "You know, I was born to loving parents in the richest country in the world. Why me?"  It is natural to assume that we deserve all the blessings given to us but the trials and tragedies are undeserved. Yet so much of our good fortune is in fact unearned. If you have a functioning brain, it is a gift. If you were born into a loving family, it is a gift. If you have never gone hungry, been caught in a natural disaster, on and on — you have been extravagantly blessed. Surely that merits wondering why?  It merits something else as well, gratitude and a sense of responsibility. We should not feel guilty for good fortune, but we should be grateful and try to spread it to others. The answer to blessing is prayer and tzedakah. If we practice both, that may be the answer to the question, why me? 

December 14, 2016

Hi everyone,

Hope you've welcomed Winter!

It is beginning to look a lot like the holiday season. Next week, we will be hosting our annual Hanukkah Out of the Cold celebration with gift bags of toiletries, Susan's famous brisket, latkes for all,  and candle lighting with some of the older Beth Jacob Hebrew School students. Can you make any hanukkah cookies for our guests?  Bring them PLEASE.

Our group has really found our stride, and our guests have really found us!  It takes a big commitment from all of you to make sure that Tuesdays are well-staffed.  We are now a team and if you would like to wear the team swag, we're offering HOOTC logoed shirts/sweatshirts for purchase. See attached info. Sorry for the short notice; all orders must be in by next Tuesday, Dec 20th accompanied by cash only.

As many of you remember, for many years, our OOTC commitment included a very meaningful shelter component. That ended in 2010 when enough women's beds were available for the need. Times have changed. Too many women are being turned away from the shelters and money to cover emergency beds isn't enough.  Therefore, our OOTC Board has agreed to commit to fund ten additional beds at the YWCA which brings their total to sixty.  This $30,000 does not come from the Jewish community's Tuesday funds, but it does come from our collective mission to support the needs of the stranger, the widow, the fatherless and the poor.

Unfortunately we had a very disturbing incident occur at our site last Tuesday.  As all of our guests were departing dinner service, one of our 'regulars' punched a wheelchair bound guest named J in the face. J required emergency medical attention for a broken nose. Any incidents of a physical nature are very concerning, this one is particularly disturbing to hear considering that Jonathan had just been released from hospital two days before after having brain surgery. Peter, our security guard, responded very quickly and paramedics/police were called. Paramedics treated J at the scene and then transported him to the General for additional care. The police spoke with J at the hospital to obtain his official statement and investigated this matter.  We hope for an update tomorrow. As of last Wednesday, the individual is banned from all HOOTC sites.  This incident highlights our need to be vigilant at all times.

As we gather to sanctify the holidays this year, it's natural to look skyward, not just for snow but to the One above who has connected us as a group and, therefore, a threat to hunger and despair.  “Pray as if everything depended on God; act as if everything depended on you.” Rabbi Ferdinand Isserman
.... and we shall see you tomorrow.


November 27, 2016


A dinner as delicious as last Tuesday's can only be accomplished by women as magnificent as our morning cooking ensemble. The picture attempts to capture the warm heartedness of this cohesive group, their determination to feed nutritious meals to people seeking social interaction, warmth and a satisfying  meal.

Menu:  minestrone soup, meat lasagne, vegetarian lasagne, caesar salad with house-made croutons and dressing, fruit.

Some of the 153 guests said, "You're still the champs."  "Just like being in Italy."
"Serving wine tonight?" "Encore!"

See you soon,


November 1, 2016

Hi Cooks!

What an opening!  Guests: 95  Chicken: 8 (pieces left)

Must tell you because it just doesn't seem right to receive all the words of appreciation, the smiles, the sense of relief, the reunions, the satisfying flavours and service.

Even with plugged main sinks, you rocked! Sometime before next week, I'm going to label the shelves on Rocky, the rolling shelving unit, so we're better organized on Week Two.  If you have any recipes you'd like to share, please send or bring next week for discussion. We've never voted in recipes before but maybe I'm too wrapped up with an upcoming election in the South.

A suggestion or two:  First to arrive, wipe down the surfaces as we did today. Someone can step up to turn on the fan and ovens. We do this already, but for the newcomers to our team, take at least two trollies into the pantry area to retrieve and place in their special spots: cuisinart, soup base, detergent, spray bottle & glove box and sponge/scrubber red bin, etc. To the stage: Salt & Pepper, Sugar box, spoons, forks, knives. When we help unload the shopper's and my cars, please place the items in their intended places. ie: fruit goes on the stage; milk, margarine, etc in the fridge; juice on the microwave counter. When Rocky arrives, unload containers onto the table by the kitchen door. ex: knives, tongs, misc container, long spoons, etc. Their lids can come off and be placed underneath their containers. This way there will be less chance of contamination and keeps the island clear of clutter for prep.

Any other ideas?  Are you satisfied with tuna, bread and salad every week, year in, year out? I'll grab some garbanzos

Thanks everyone. Really, tonight was magic. You were the spark!


September 2016

Hello OOTC Volunteers!

Hope you've had a wonderful Spring and Summer. Pretty soon you may begin stretching out the OOTC muscles for our 17th Season which begins on Tuesday, November
1 at our host church, St. Mary's!  It won't be long before we’re off and running, feeding the souls and stomachs of our guests.
If you would like to volunteer from 10 am to 4 pm, as soon as possible, please confirm by texting/calling with Cindy. If your shift is 4 to 6:30 pm, confirm by texting/calling with Norma. Should you have any questions, ideas, suggestions, you know we're always ready to listen. This is an important group effort which we want to keep evolving so that your time and focus is most meaningful.

If you know like-minded individuals who would be interested in our program, please send the attached flyer to them. Information regarding the Thurs. Oct. 13th orientation, shifts, duties, lists of needed food, toiletries, and monetary donations is described within.

Finally,  it is important to share some other news.  Our Board's Executive Director, Sister Nancy Sullivan, has committed to additional leadership roles within the Sisters of St. Joseph. With sadness, she has rendered her resignation effective Oct. 26. We are so grateful for Sister's wisdom, enthusiasm, strength and pray that her efforts to serve in her next role will be as rewarding and meaningful to her and those whom she serves.  Attached is a job posting which we hope you, or someone you know, might consider.

Shanah Tova. A healthy, peaceful and fulfilling year to all of you.

Cindy and Norma

April 2016

Dear vacationing OOTC’ers,

We should all be very grateful and satisfied to have completed another meaningful season of OOTC. Over 20 weeks, we warmed and fed 1597 guests, averaging 80 guests per week.

We also took every opportunity to thank our guests for making the effort to attend through this unusually frigid winter.  So many people have mobility challenges and it was probably no easy feat!  One guest summed up his effort by saying, “Eating here is like coming to my dear old aunt’s house.” Knowing that most of our servers are Jewish, another guest always said, “Toda (thank you)” and “Bevakasha (you’re welcome).”   Another guest was overheard on his cell phone, “Second time this week I’ve had meatloaf.”      Well…. anyway you look at it, it’s advertising, right?

Our last night’s menu for the largest group we had all year, 123 guests, was Memories of March soup, Brisket, Caesar Salad, Roasted Root Vegetables, Fruit.  Everyone received a bag of toiletries too!

Our hosts at St Mary’s have been especially gracious and generous with their space. This, we hope, will remain our home and a haven for so many seeking friendly faces and food to curb their hunger and help them to spend their money on housing, heat, clothes and healthcare needs.

The blessings in our lives are especially poignant and pronounced when we so often serve our guests who need more than they currently have.   To get to know them and to build friendships with other volunteers under the stellar direction of wonderful Norma Jack, coordinator of volunteers, …. Well, let’s say, it’s just one of the very best parts of our lives. I’m sure you’ll all agree.

“There is joy for people who have plans to do good.”  

Join another couple of hundred like-minded people  at the Annual Appreciation Night Dinner being held at St. Mary's Church Hall on Wednesday, April 22nd. Please RSVP by emailing the office as directed on the attached invitation.

It’s always great to have a well deserved break, but I hope you will look forward to joining us again in November.  Have a wonderful Passover and Easter, Summer and Fall.

See you in November.


February 2016

Hi Ladies,

What an amazing dinner. 106 grateful happy guests loved loved loved the soup!  Only a tiny container from the smallest pot was left.   And the lasagne?  Heavenly, I mean it!  One full tray left.

Really want to thank you all; it went so well with great volunteers who are finding their stride.

If anyone happens to be baking hanukkah cookies or brownies or anything sweetish for the holiday, please make an extra dozen for our OOTC celebration Dec 8.  Don't forget to have an OOTC vacation Dec 29; we'll be closed that day.

Last night, I received this beautiful note from our newest worker, Nikki Ohayon:

 "I just wanted to let you know that I had such a positive and enriching experience today volunteering for Out of the Cold. Seeing the genuine kindness and willing to volunteer from the fellow ladies this afternoon was truly special and not something one sees on a day-to-day basis. The smiles and laughter in both the kitchen and hall were infectious, and instantly put a smile on MY face.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help, and I look forward to more volunteering in the coming weeks!

All the best,

Nikki "

December 16, 2014

Dear OOTC friends,

It has been a fine start to another season of OOTC, # 15, I think! A fresh beginning in a welcoming environment is more than anyone could ask for.  Our St Mary’s hosts have provided a cook’s dream-of-a-kitchen and a reception hall in which our guests feel truly special.  I’ve even heard a few mention that the dance floor is tempting them.

Over the last month and a half, the number of guests have been less than the 120-160 guests of the past. OOTC now has seven dinner locations offering nine meals per week. Historically, it can take a while for a new location to become known.

You have identified yourself with a wonderful group. Through your efforts, more guests will become ‘regulars’ and you’ll be moving faster than the latkes and briskets from tonight’s dinner pans. Toronto rabbi, Michal Shekel, reminded us that, during the season of Sukkot, “the firmest foundations in our lives are not found in physical structures (like church halls), but in the partnerships we establish with others.”

Remember that, for some people in need, gaining trust in new situations can be particularly difficult. Others are reluctant to add another ‘hand-out’ to counteract their depleted resources.  For some people, OOTC is the answer to hunger, warmth and social contact.
To drive home that point, a few recent stories:

Two weeks ago, our guest Darryl who happens to have more spaces in his mouth than teeth, was disappointed because there were no soft bananas left, only hard apples.  One of our wonderful volunteers took notice of that and this past week, she brought several bananas to give to Darryl just in case bananas were not plentiful. As she was delivering the fruit, Darryl presented her with a Hanukkah greeting card. Just imagine the recognition of a relationship of mutual consideration and overflowing with gratitude and goodwill.  It was the most beautiful example of caring about each other.

Secondly, last Thursday at Walmart, I saw Cameron, a guest who for a few cold winters back in the James Street Baptist days, would dine at our locations and sleep over. We all knew Cameron as an educated man evidently with a hidden past or emotional challenges too complex for life on the grid.  Well, Cameron looks quite well; we spoke easily for a bit; I invited him to our new location; he’ll think about it.

One man from Mission Services said, “I eat out at a lot of ‘these types of places.’ This is by far the best food anywhere!”

So tonight, as we celebrate the festival of Hanukkah, the rededication of the Temple, let’s celebrate and dedicate ourselves to this especially important OOTC task.
There are those who give tzedakah with their hands, and this is a big mitzvah. But the greatest mitzvah is to give with your heart, a generosity accompanied with care, love and

Appreciation Night will be held at St. Mary's Church Hall on Wednesday, April 22

Tonight’s menu:  Vegetable barley soup, Brisket, Latkes with Applesauce, Tossed Salad, Hot Veggies, Fruit, Hanukkah Cookies by the Beth Jacob Bakers!

October 31, 2014

Dear HOOTC volunteers,

We look forward to new and returning volunteers, at our new location, St. Mary's Church.

*north on Bay, past Cannon, right on Sheafe
*enter by kitchen door, east side of building
*after 4 you nay enter by guest entrance (west side)
*parking in the lot or on the street

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.

As we may have new guests from the area, they may wish to "help".  If needed, diplomatically remind 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 and circulate efficiently.  Be vigilant of our guests needs, but don't stand watching!

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.

If you perceive a concern, contact Cindy, Norma or security.

Offer a ride home to a volunteer who is alone or walking, particularly our younger helpers.

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 have several hands to help.  When Cindy has "left the building", we know we are done!!

Especially as this is a new venue, we welcome feedback about the evening.
If you cannot make a Tuesday, please let Norma know.  

Thank you for helping host another Out of the Cold.

March 29, 2014

Hello Cooks et al

The fabulous dinner was devoured yesterday by 145 grateful guests. Wish you had been there to see their love of brisket, soup, salad, rice and ice cream sandwiches. Servers did a great job managing that everyone got your message of care and concern.

Rest assured that you've made a huge difference to some very needy individuals.


March 11, 2014

To the cooks only.

Hello everyone.

Finally I can report that we had a great big crowd, 140, who looooved the cranberry chicken, rice, lentil soup, mishloach manot/hamentashen.  I'm serious, one lady approached Lorraine Kudlats to tell her it was the best chicken she had ever had IN HER LIFE. (And by the way, she was no spring chicken herself!)

Soup was totally gone, and about 10 breasts left.

Would anyone mind if we rolled meatballs next week; they can be rolled large.  So many guests are asking for meatballs and spaghetti.

Have a wonderful week everyone and thanks for the kind wishes today.


Sarit and Tom and Catherine; Peter (Marcia’s friend)  “I had no idea this existed.”  At that moment I thought, “Does he mean this as in the OotC program or does he mean this as in people in such need that they are here for food and warmth?”

February 26, 2014

Hello All

Who can blame the volunteers who are fleeing the cold for the next few weeks?

We need reinforcements Mar 4, 11, 18 from 4 pm until 6:30 pm.

Ben Gurion said, "Every person possesses tremendous hidden strengths, which need to be discovered and put to use."

Find those people!  Please contact Norma Jack or myself if you will be bringing a helpful soul with you.

Our 125 guests were overjoyed to receive warm socks last night; one said it felt like Christmas! As our menu board said, Pea soup, Southern fried chicken, Tossed Salad, Pasta and fruit, and "Have no fear, March is almost here!"



February 18, 2014

Hello OOTC'ers,

Hope you had a great Family Day with loved ones and friends. We want to remind you that you have another holiday, today!

MacNab church needs their space so we shall see you next Tuesday, Feb 25!

As if you need any more motivation for doing wonderously generous kind acts, please enjoy the message below from Rabbi David Wolpe.

Yasher Koach to all of you!


Love is not solely a feeling, but an enacted emotion. We have to act out our love for it to be real, and yet we rarely ascribe our actions to good feelings. "I hit him because I was hurt" is a commonplace; or "I lied because I was scared." But how often do we say, "I gave because I was grateful" or "I helped out because I felt joyous?" Judaism teaches that we are best known by what we do and that each mitzvah increases our tendency to more goodness. So when we feel an impulse to do something kind, it strengthens the moral muscles to act. The world needs our actions more than our intention. Many needs will not respond to good wishes, but can be fulfilled with good deeds. So the system of mitzvoth is both a training ground and a solution: if we used the positive nature of our emotions to act as we excuse our misdeeds by negative emotions, we would improve ourselves and help fix our world. Delight, too, is a spur. Don't keep your joy to yourself. Don't hoard your love. Spread it over others. Now that's a mitzvah.

January 27, 2014

Dear Volunteers,

As always we appreciate your commitment to guests at Out of the Cold, especially as this winter has been so demanding.

While the evening goes smoothly and guests always comment on the quality of the food and service, we are finding the final clean up stage to becoming a bit onerous for the few remaining volunteers.

We are writing to request that if your "shift" starts at 5:00, please arrange your schedule to be able to remain until the final work is done.  While it can appear that there is not much left to do at 6:15, there remains the oven to be cleaned and disinfected, garbage, recycling, "schlepping" of left-overs and laundry to Cindy's car and lock up procedures.

By offering some extra moments, we can target a departure time of 6:30-6:45.

Here are a few updates for your calendar.

There will be NO OOTC at MacNab on Tues. Feb. 18 since the church has another event that evening.  

The Volunteer Appreciation Dinner will be Wed. April 30.  Share our success with a couple of hundred other amazing people!

After a lot of reflection, interviewing and discussion, our Board has been busy formulating an OOTC strategic plan to make sure that our greatest efforts and ingenuity are directed toward what is wrong or incomplete in the world.  Will keep you posted.

You're already so cool, but stay warm too.

Norma & Cindy

January 6, 2014

Hello OOTC’ers

After holidays and New Years celebrations, it is wonderful to get back into our comfortable routine.  If only the temperatures were comfortable too!  Please take care tomorrow as you make your way to OOTC and back home again.

We hope to open the doors to our guests earlier than 4 pm with coffee and tea ready. It would be healthier to warm them up with soup so if we have a few people from the soup shift that are able to come earlier, please do so. If there are too many volunteers, that would be A-OK!  You can warm them up further with a chat and a smile.

Now that you have some experience, you must agree that welcoming is more than just the way we greet people, it is a way of life.  “Welcoming is the attitude with which we respond to people, ideas and the world around us. It’s not just about opening our doors but also opening our hearts and our minds to that which is new and sometimes even frightening. Only when we overcome our fears and choose to trust can we be welcoming in the truest sense of the word.” Craig Taubman, Jewels of Elul

The possibilities of shared knowledge, shared experience, and shared loyalty are right at our doorstep each Tuesday.

See you then.


JOB OPPORTUNITY FOR TOMORROW AT 9 AM!!  Need an extra person to assist Tony with setting up tables and chairs.  Call or e-mail me asap please. 905 648-8030

December 7, 2013

Hello Again!

Hot off the cyber-presses, is the Out of the Cold Newsletter.  Hope you get a chance to enjoy and pat yourselves on the back!


The season wouldn't be as special without the continued opportunity to ensure the brightest Christmas morning for our adoptive family,  Jean and her grandsons Jayson, 12 and Nicholas, 8.  The boys are very innocent with learning delays. Both are looking forward to Santa's visit.

With hesitation and selflessness, Jean provided a list last night:

Jayson: fish tank starter with filter/pump, a lava lamp, a t.v. (they don't have cable, but watch dvd's), school clothes like hoodies, jeans size 10 or 12, stocking stuffers

Nicholas:  LEGO, DS1, hoodies, jeans, size 8, stocking stuffers

Jean: perfume called Beautiful, bus tickets, grocery or drugstore gift cards, a queen bed-in-a-bag for herself. I know her favourite colour is purple, nailpolish, makeup.  Her size is XL.    Last year, Jean was slim. Thank God, cancer treatments have ended, but steroids have plumped her up.

Any and all help would be wonderful.  I must deliver everything by next Thursday.

Shabbat Shalom,


December 4, 2013

Hello all,

Ok, these are a few of my favourite things!

1. Guests rushing over to ask if "the meat" mentioned on the menu board is brisket.  Answer, not only brisket but also chicken accompanied by latkes and apple sauce, soup, veggies, apple crisp and clementines too!  Thank you to our morning latke-frying kitchen crew who only quit after hundreds were expertly prepared. They are so committed and wonderful (and by next week, they'll smell better too!)

2.   Sharing an experience like lighting the chanukkiah with our guests. Our sages taught that we take the light of the menorah and place it outside our door. The values of the Jewish home are to illuminate us as we enter the world around us. I think it should also illuminate the world around us.  Rabbi David Wolpe writes, "Increasingly in modern society we do not see the poor in our daily lives. Wealth insulates and allows us to live among others who are doing well. There are still numerous challenges to life, but the grinding poverty that is a feature of so much of the world (and was prevalent throughout the ancient world) plays an increasingly small role in our everyday reality. That separation is call to conscience. Our good fortune should be a spur to empathy and compassion. We who are so blessed must be more beneficent; we who have more gifts must show more gratitude.  Our mission is goodness and the right time is always now."

3.  After dinner commentary:  'Dinner was numero uno,' 'Fantastic as usual!'  Seeing our guests leave feeling enhanced, elevated, valued with bellies full.... priceless. You are all doing such a wonderful mitzvah, and as is often the case, we're never quite sure who benefits more from our OOTC miracle.  Let's just say, we all do.

Now, a few reminders, housekeeping, and safety:
If you hear inappropriate words or experience unwelcome touching, report it immediately to our security, Norma or myself.
Please don't leave valuables unattended in the church...ever.
Latex gloves are garbage, not recyclable, unfortunately.
If you are on the last shift, PLEASE remain until we are all done. If you're not sure, just ask. If everyone stays just 5-10 minutes longer, we can ALL be done together.
Your weekly commitment is greatly appreciated.  Having said that, don't come Dec. 24 or Dec. 31!

However you celebrate the season, enjoy it in good health and see you in 2014.


September 12, 2013

Hello OOTC volunteers,

The themes of our Jewish High Holy Days are intended to make us reflect on our lives, repent and plan for our improved selves to enter a new year. "It's not intended to depress or scare us, but to motivate us, to make us discerning and brave." Rabbi Yael Splansky    With our 15th Season of Out of the Cold, we enthusiastically, whole-heartedly look forward to another new beginning.

From where will our Tuesday night group be operating?  We're getting closer to finding a new home for out Tuesday guests ... I'm feeling it ... but no news isn't bad news!!

Here is some really good news is:  Hamilton Food Share has invited us to "shop" their warehouse of non-perishables next Tuesday, Sept 17 at 9 am, 339 Barton St., Stoney Creek and I really, really, really need someone to accompany me in my car so I don't get lost or stolen or muscle exhaustion. We'll be unloading our goodies at a donated space near Food Share.  Time commitment: 2.0 hours approximately.

Orientation Night: If you know of a potential volunteer, he/she must attend the orientation which will take place Thursday, October 17th from 7-9 p.m. at Central Presbyterian Church, 165 Charlton Ave. W.  Please have them contact the office to sign up by email at: or by phone 905-308-8447. This orientation is for people interested in any program of the 6 days a week including breakfasts.  If you know that you cannot commit :( this year, would you please let me know asap.  We'll get over it, but you are welcome to join us again ....(when you come to your senses.)

Over many years, our Coordinators of Volunteers, Lila and Behrad, have led us where no volunteer ever thought they could go. (Sometimes with a toilet bowl scrubber in hand!)  Their involvement with OOTC will still be present but not in the same capacity as before.  So, there is an available position which I hope you may consider.  The responsibilities are well laid out and the role is satisfying and heartwarming as one sees the life affirming qualities in so many other like-minded participants of our program.  Act now and call me.

As we start our self-imposed Fast tomorrow night, we can also think about our guests who do not always have the same choice.  Wishing you L'Shanah Tova Tikatevu and may you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.


February 4, 2013

Our guests were thrilled that we transitioned to another church and very little was different for them. Maybe you heard too how afraid for us and how afraid for themselves they were since JSB closed.  Reminds me how important it is to hold honest conversations with others, especially those who depend on us.  Martin Buber explained that when we are actually listening, with armor down and heart open, fully hearing and not busily composing a reply, open to the unexpected and uncharted - it is a holy engaging encounter with G-d present between us.

Now, may I ask something else really important?  PLEASE, if you arrive to serve dinner, stay with us till the end. Commit to doing one or two of the following tasks with a buddy or by yourself, and we'll all be out by 6:30 pm.

*Tablecloth containers go to the closet within the mens’ washroom
*Return practically everything to the far cupboard
*Empty all garbages, bathrooms too, into one large bag. (Don’t always need to waste a new bag for a few goops of garbage, but restock if necessary.)
*Garbage and recycling to the garage
*Clean stove top; spray and wipe omega over the trollies, countertops, sinks & taps
*Put leftovers in freezer
*Cindy’s car – shmattas (dirty cloths), milk , fridge items
*Sweep the kitchen for the security man to later mop
*Vacuum the volunteer room
*Lower the thermostats, turning off fans, lights, closing doors for fire prevention
Looking ahead:  Our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner is scheduled for April 17 at the ever-hospitable St. Mary's Church.  More information to follow.

See you tomorrow at MacNab!


January 28, 2013

Hi everyone.

oh, you're going to like our move!  it's brighter, bigger, and the kitchen has a modern dishwasher. And you'll recognize most of the guests!  Believe me, they have their favourite seats at MacNab just as they did at JSB.

given your experience, it will take about 10 minutes to get acquainted to your new surroundings, so please, if you can, come a little earlier than normal.

there is very little storage space for OOTC; however, what is there is ample if we put it all back in just the right places.  I think I have it figured out (and even took pictures on my phone for reference.) Please be prepared to stay a little longer, 10 or 15 minutes, so that we can all help each other right until the end.



January 26, 2013

Hello OOTC Team:

We’re back in business next Tuesday at MacNab Presbyterian, 116 MacNab St. S., less than 2 blocks south of James Street Baptist on the other side of the railway tracks.  Travel east on one-way Bold St and turn left on MacNab.  If walking from James St, turn right on Hunter and go through the tunnel under the tracks.  The church greets you right away.

The parking is just as tricky as before with meter parking, City Hall or some free parking on side streets.  Volunteers may use the kitchen entrance off the driveway from MacNab St.  Walk through the kitchen, (smell the meatloaf,) and move on to the volunteer room off to the right. The church has a wonderful community, currently hosting two nights of OOTC.  Come next November, we’ll probably have another location, but for now until March 19th, let’s be thankful that we’re all together doing what we love to do.

May we hunger for opportunities like this week to use our gifts! May we be fed with wisdom and strength to grow into something better!

Shabbat Shalom,


January 19, 2013

Hello Friends

There has been another development with respect to structural concerns at James Street Baptist Church.  Until further notice, they must close until assessments are made confirming that it is safe.

It's a very sad time for the whole community.  Although the congregation is small in numbers, their ministry is strong servicing single women with children, the Congolese Community, an emergency food cupboard, seniors groups, bands and choirs, as well as OOTC and their own parish.

For this coming Tuesday, Jan 22, we will not operate.  Sister Nancy and I will continue the search for either a new space or the possibility that an existing OOTC church will adopt us too.

Our concern is to our guests who count on us, so signage will be posted and announcements made from Monday at McNab and St Stephen's of Hungary as well as other avenues of communication. Let's hope that our guests will only miss us for a very short time.

Thanks and I'll keep you posted.


December 11, 2012

Chanukkah Sumach!

Just have to update you on our dinner last night and give you an incentive to come out as part of our evening team if you volunteer earlier in the day.

Ralph Orman returned with his wife Bev to see how his soup is served and received.  Of course, he stood at the front of the room for a round of applause!! and then we set them to work!

As the guests streamed in at 4 pm and kept coming and coming, I ran to the freezer and pulled out a double layered tray of cooked roasted chicken and set to defrosting it because I just knew that the 60 or so pounds of brisket was not going to be enough.

EVERY guest was fed.  There was enough curried butternut squash and apple soup, latkes with applesauce, tossed salad, bean salad, brisket and chicken, home baked cookies, clementines, holiday warmth and goodness for all ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY.

Candles were lit, blessings were sung and guests were overjoyed and overfed.
If 2000 years ago, there was the miracle of oil, last night there was the miracle of meat at OOTC.

Thanks to all of you.  



Well Done Cindy and to your great team.regards   barbara

WOW Cindy 160 knew we had a lot but never thought we had quite that many you are doing an amazing job !!!!

Dear Cindy, Thank you for the brought tears to my eyes to think of how happy you and your crew made our guests and how happy the volunteers were to do it.
I am practically drooling on Janice's desk as I read the menu!

Whew!!!!!!! Miracle indeed! miriam

November 30, 2012

Hello Volunteers and hello snow!

Thought I would try to warm you on what looks to be the first day of the Winter of 2012/2013.

The Torah parsha this week begins with the story of Jacob.  An encounter with "another" transforms not only himself but his opponent. There is ambiguity and confusion. Is Jacob wrestling with an angel?  a man?  God?  We know that, as a result of his struggle, he is physically hurt but will not let go unless he is blessed. His opponent blesses him,  'No more shall you be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with human beings, and you have prevailed'" (32:25-29).

Jacob is spiritually renewed.  He was no longer the "heel" who tricked and deceived others; he was upright.  Not known for his physical strength, he learns that it is spiritual strength that counts.  After running away 20 years earlier from a struggle with his brother, now he learns that it is through struggle that one grows and becomes the person that one is meant to be.

"But Jacob was not the only one who was changed by this wrestling match. His opponent, whom Jacob ultimately realizes is God, was also changed. From now on God knows that there is a true covenant-partner; first an individual-then a nation-who will argue and fight back; who will challenge and not allow God to escape from our grasp without answering our most challenging questions. Perhaps this was the moment when God first knew that Jacob and his descendants are indeed worthy of the gift of the covenant because they understand that being part of the covenant means standing up for who you are and what you believe in, no matter who you are standing up to.

Finally, this wrestling match also changed who we would be as a people. It not only gave us our name, Israel, but it gave us our identity. It means that we are destined to wrestle and struggle and fight not only with our enemies, but also with ourselves and with God. It established the idea that through such struggle comes growth and reconciliation, and that only through direct confrontation are we able to change from who we are to who we were meant to be."  Rabbi Bruce Kadden

If you are a seasoned volunteer of Out of the Cold or a beginner, you have now become one who struggles with God and is a partner with God. Week after week, you see the fear, poverty, hunger and displacement of people who struggle with finding just the basic necessities of life.  In either case, you no longer are who you once were.  This good deed that you do easily encourages you to engage in more. “Mitzvah goreret mitzvah,” one good deed leads to another good deed. Together, we can challenge our guests’ beliefs that no one cares about them.  Even if you work behind the scenes or before the doors even open, by your smiles, by your service with pure intention, by your weekly presence, by your words and connections, you challenge the barriers that are put up as stumbling blocks for our guests.

The attached HOOTC newsletter speaks to the past, present and future.  In our actions, it is not the outcome but the effort and you’ll read all about it.   We’re all a tag-team, stronger for having each other.  See you next week!

Shabbat Shalom, Cindy

November 1, 2012

Dear Friends:

Our daylight hours are becoming shorter.  Socks are now part of my daily apparel. And (no) thanks to Hurricane Sandy, the stunning colourful leaves from the trees have fallen.   It must be Cheshvan!! “…and it has a unique standing in the Jewish calendar.  It’s the only month in the Jewish year that doesn’t contain a day of significance.  Whether it’s a holiday or a fast day, we consider these days to be significant in that they prompt us toward celebration or introspection.  To have an entire month without any of these prompts certainly makes that month stand out.”  Rachael Turkienicz

Ah, but to me, Cheshvan does have a day or two of significance and prompting.

First, 17 Cheshvan (actually today) is the day that my mother passed eleven years ago.  It is always a day of introspection and it inspires me to be a better person.  With my mother, Ruth, in mind, I suppose that I imitate a behaviour that she had down to perfection – to put people at ease, feed them.

Secondly, the first day of Out of the Cold usually corresponds to a day in Cheshvan.  What could be more significant than that to thousands of needy and homeless people in Hamilton???  In the church parking lot today, I had a lovely visit with our guest Ralph.  I could hear the grumbling in his stomach as he told me that he and everyone else await our food and smiles!!
So, Cheshvan is our month of choice and opportunity.  We choose our focus and commit ourselves to seizing opportunities for change.

Looking forward to seeing you next Tuesday, Nov. 6 for another meaningful, powerful, bonding, community-building season of Out of the Cold.

Shabbat Shalom,



Cindy, you really do inspire me............thank you!  See you on Tuesday.

April 3, 2012

Today is your first non-OOTC Tuesday in five months. May I help you with your withdrawal?

Your righteous indignation and responsibility for the plight of others has resulted in record-breaking numbers of guests this past season. Over 21 weeks, 2,787 guests were nourished by wonderful folks, who agree that it is not easy to witness and walk amongst people whose lives are broken.  Yet, in feeding our guests, we nourish ourselves. The Baal Shem Tov said, “To pull a friend out of the mire, don’t hesitate to get dirty.” Our volunteers don’t just get dirty. How about wet, smelly, splashed with bleach, callused, back soreness, poorer for parking…. However, it is rewarding just to be able to bring our guests back to life in a matter of minutes with a bowl of soup, a smile, a single “hello.”  A very special thank you to Behrad and Lila for showing us how to get dirty, encouraging us and patting us on the back. You are two very special people. (Round of applause, please!)

The appreciation for our program is never greater than on the last evening in March.  Even those who hardly ever make eye contact or speak managed to break their silence, their shame or embarrassment, distrust, fear, social isolation, physical pain.  A tall, lean, un-named accented man perhaps in his 30’s stood up and, with paper in hand, spoke about the meaningful assistance Out of the Cold provided to him.  He stressed that it was not just the food served, but more so, it was the dignity and respect provided that made everyone feel full of worth and importance.

Other guests easily share their insights on life and OOTC.  To one man, I suggested that he eat his vegetables. He replied, “Healthy food makes me sick!”  Another lady remarked that our meals were visually appealing, “First I eat with my eyes.” Another man wanted to say good-bye and thanks. He has been dining at all the OOTC’s all winter in order to save up to move to Owen Sound and now can do so.  Another woman quickly and quietly entered and exited the church, but not before forcing $40 into the hand of our security man. She explained that her friend dines at OOTC all the time. Her friend will not take money from her, so she insisted on helping us help her.

To say thank you and give a collective celebratory pat on the back, please attend the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on April 17. RSVP as soon as possible; the invitation is attached.

There is a story told by Winston Lord of a speech he wrote for Henry Kissinger. “Kissinger called me in the next day and said, ‘Is this the best you can do?’ This went on eight times, eight drafts; each time he said, ‘Is this the best you can do?’ So I went in there with a ninth draft, and when he asked me that same question, I said, ‘Henry, I’ve beaten my brains out; I know it’s the best I can do.’  He then looked at me and said, ‘Now I’ll read it.’”   Doing one’s “best” can be a cop out, something we might just say to avoid improving ourselves.  But, it’s actually a challenge – to commit one’s learning and abilities fully to the task at hand.  Come September when turning to the High Holidays and then in November when we start Season 13, we can all ask, “Did I do my best? What do I need to work on?  I’m sorry if I did not do all I could do, and I will do better in the future.”  No one is perfect, but so long as we strive with all heart and soul to do our best for those in our community, we may turn toward blessing.

For now, arriving this Shabbat, Passover is our holiday of celebrating freedom.  As we retell the story of our redemption from slavery, we underscore the fact that we must continually fight for freedom for ourselves and others.

Chag Sameach, Happy Easter, Happy and Safe Spring and Summer. And as it is written on our menu board each week, “ENJOY!”



Dear Cindy,
How can we ever thank you for the magnificent representation you achieve for us all and  our community--having said that,a very hearty and genuine "thank you"" from us both--we are proud and honoured to be part of such a meaningful organisation even though in just a very tiny way!!.
 We also look forward to your weekly e-mails--so beautifully thought-out and written.
See you at the "Appreciation Dinner"",until then,have a much deserved happy and restful Summer.
with love,   Ken and Arlene.

March 27, 2012

 (to the cooks)

Hi Cook-ies!

Congratulations for the splendid meal last night. Every pot of soup, salad, chicken, rice, hot veggie and piece of fruit were gone courtesy of 155 guests.  People waited in the foyer for an available chair. As everyone left they were given a mega-popsicle and gingerbread man.  What did we get?  Smiles, heartfelt thanks, tears, appreciation... perhaps that is even more than we give.

A guest delivered a heartfelt message to our group ... too moving.  I'll write more in the annual volunteer letter soon.

Just to let you know, that it is said over and over again by our guests, our Tuesday night offering is the best food of all, and the kindest, friendliest volunteers ever assembled.

My deepest gratitude to all of you for your commitment and friendship,


February 21, 2012

To Cooks only:     Hi Everyone.

Wonderful dinner tonight with exactly 150 guests.  It was a challenge seating everyone but, at least, with the newly purchased cutlery and soup bowls and mugs, we were ready for business. About 20 guests who waited in the foyer for seats were served broccoli soup in mugs and bread was passed around until seats came available.  So many volunteers cleared and cleaned and we were out by 6:15! Compliments to all of YOU from our very grateful guests; they feel so special being served such delicious food with kindness and generosity.


January 3, 2012

Hunger obviously beats out cold weather.  Without your efforts,  129 guests last night would still be hungry and cold. We would have had even more had we not, at 120 guests, put up the sign to tell them to go to McNab!  All the "very best of December meats" soon disappeared as well as some of the meatloaves we made yesterday.

Reported missing:  all of the turkey, brisket, meatballs, stuffing, pasta , AS WELL AS EVERY DROP OF 5 POTS OF SOUP, 10 kg of hot veggies, 5 bowls of caesar salad with those delicious home made croutons we made, 5 cases of bread and every piece of fruit.

I don't like to poke fun at people but I have to admit that it's so hilarious watching the stunned never-been-tested replacement volunteers as they witness and try to keep up with the swift preparation, serving, cleanup, take down, mopping and drying that goes on. We were done by 6:30.

Most importantly, one aspect of Judaism I find beautiful beyond measure is the tradition of hospitality - giving physical pleasure to those who have too little. A Hasidic teacher once said, "Somebody else's material needs are my spiritual duties." This OOTC business is how we join sharing our pleasures with others.  

I sure hope that in spite of the very cold temperatures, you left OOT-very Cold with a warm and fuzzy feeling of fulfilled duty.

Yasher Koach, job well done!


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

October 26, 2011

B’reishit:  “In the beginning…”

Last week, Jews around the world began anew the cycle of Torah. In it, G-d separates light from darkness, the sky from the water, order from chaos. We learn that we are responsible, despite our transgressions, to maintain a creative partnership with G-d, G-d who is compassionate, empathetic, generous, and of whose image we are created.

Tuesday, November 8th, is our Out of the Cold beginning. To us, beginning anew means refusing to accept things as they are.  It means believing that, with effort, the power of good can and will overcome the daunting power of the status quo.

New beginnings demand that we dream a better future and relentlessly ask “why not?” In Season Twelve of our ever-changing program, we strive to control what challenges us.  Case in point. The three-morning-a-week breakfast program which we hosted last year from The Wesley Centre proved so successful in meeting the needs of on average 70 guests a day, that OOTC has expanded our role to five mornings.

Once again, we are disappointed to learn that the Hamilton Food Share start up donation of non-perishable foods will not be realized. Therefore, we will have to be even more careful with our budget and resourceful.

Although most of our volunteers are returning, we would welcome some help in the morning cooking department.  Know anyone with a little experience or a lot of enthusiasm?

There’s an old Yiddish proverb, “You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.”  Let’s get ready to jibe.  As always, your creative solutions and ideas are welcome.

Our coordinator of volunteers are Lila Strub and Behrad Garmsiri. If you are on a shift from 4 pm until close, please communicate to them if you are unable to attend. Lila Strub (905)628-4390;   Behrad Garmsiri  (416)843-7772;

“God saw how good each of His creations was.” When it comes to OOTC, I must admit that my spirituality and connection to religion spikes.  In the Canadian Jewish News, Sept. 24 /11, Rabbi Baskin writes, “Adopt a spiritual attitude toward life.  At its best, such an attitude says yes to the universe….Despite its manifold secrets and mysteries, the world displays order and makes sense. Just as a door testifies that it has a carpenter and a coat testifies that it has a weaver, so does the existence of the world testify that it has a Creator.”

See you on November 8th.


March 25, 2011

Dear Friends,

After many months of construction, Beth Jacob Synagogue officially rededicated its accessible and beautiful new space which includes a bright and inviting foyer, a spiritually uplifting chapel surrounded by Jerusalem stone and a dedication wall which recognizes the scores of people who felt moved to make the changes take place. The size of their gifts to this end mattered less than their effort.

In the centre of the donor wall a quote from Exodus 25:8 reads: “And let them make Me a Sanctuary that I may dwell among them.”   God does not dwell “in it,” rather God dwells “among us.” God rests among us when we work together on a sacred project.  Every OOTC Tuesday, we build a sanctuary, and God can be heard from the lips of every guest’s “Amen,” smelled and tasted from every cook’s pinch of seasoning, seen from every server’s smile.

We have done what we do best – feeding the body and hopefully providing nourishment and healing for the soul through acts of caring.  Every one of you, again under the leadership of Joanne and Lila, have provided for 2,704 guests, 364 more than last year.

I’m hoping that you can attend the Volunteer Appreciation Night dinner, Wed. April 13. Please RSVP to the OOTC office at 308-8447. Vegetarian kosher meals are available by request.  Our turn to do the clean up, so if you can stay a little at the end just as you have done for other groups, there will be lots of help.

The insights and feelings of our guests have been heard by many of you and that is why you come back year after year to OOTC where passive indifference is not tolerated, where the needs of all, especially the less fortunate, are tended to. One volunteer serving a dinner to a man said that he looked at the plate that had been given to him, then he looked up to God and said, “This is my lucky day.”  Another British well dressed lady quietly approached me to say that our program had sustained her through the winter; she would not have made it without us.

“Revelation is the human discovery of the values and ideals that this community determined were indispensable for living in the presence of God.” (Mordecai Kaplan)

Knowing all of you, your time away from OOTC, will be marked with acts of holiness, kindness and justice in a sanctuary of your own making. May God dwell among you.



Happy birthday to you, Behrad

Amen! And may God's richest blessings attend you and all your OOTC staff , guests, contributors and volunteers and grant joy and peace in your rededication and celebrations.
Pastor George and Sybil Horton.

thank you for organizing and doing all the little extras you do. It is a joy working for you and helping those in need of a really good meal.  see you next november if not sooner.  Lorraine

Dear Cindy:

You've done it again! Not only a wonderful year of offering respect and affection as well as gourmet, varied meals, but inspiration to the volunteers (who clearly like to come as much as the guests, a real tribute to your graciousness) but you even manage to send us a heartening inspirational---and poetic report. Many thanks       Ahuva.

February 1, 2011

What a wonderful surprise!   There was a unanimous consensus: fish is THE dish!  They loved it and thanked us endlessly for a great and courageous switch. Ninety nine guests dined and the "dream team" finished off the few floundering filets. Spaghetti alfredo was  creamy and the chicken was not only gone but clucked away without a sound in our dining establishment. It was so nice of our guests to devour the dedication and care of you, our cooking, serving and cleaning crew.
Yasher Koach, job well done!


January 18, 2011

Good evening!

A menu is not a meal; no matter how delicious the description on the menu sounds; you have to taste the food to know the truth. To know the truth, you have to experience it, even though it takes a lifetime to reveal who you are, why you exist, and who you may become.

New and exuberant volunteers are tasting and experiencing OOTC, joining us weekly mainly in the form of McMaster students.  Also, beginning next week and for the remainder of our program, nursing students will be experiencing OOTC by  carrying out their community care volunteer work. We met this afternoon to discuss their goals which mainly will be to collect information from our guests through interviews. They hope to learn guests’ challenges and existence in the world of poverty. Please allow them to interview you as well and shadow your excellent examples of empathy and compassion.  Their work will be shared with us and we hope to use their findings to better serve our guests.  (They will wear nametags and the sub-line, “Nursing Student.”)

A huge Yasher Koach goes to Behrad who did a stunning job as our Coordinator of Volunteers tonight. We actually gave him a standing ovation; we had no choice there were no chairs to sit on anywhere! Seriously, Behrad has been a valued McMaster volunteer for many years. He already coordinates our weekly team of students by using Facebook and his following is as wonderful as he is. We are truly so fortunate.

If you are present at the dinner hour, you have known of our increasing numbers of guests, but we’re always prepared. At first, I must admit I lost a little sleep but now, no more negative anticipation, only positive assumption.  We know we’ll have a crowd, deal with it. Last week, 140 guests, tonight 132. Marvelous minestrone soup (none left), meatloaf (27 kg-none left), pasta, hot veggies and salad, clementines. Thank you to the most caring, creative and kind cooks!

And each guest is so appreciative. Here are some of the accolades.
“You the ball.”        I don’t know what that means, but I imagine we’ve made it to the SuperBowl of Soup(er)Kitchens.
“Stop spoiling us.”
“Did the sun just come out or did you smile?”  
“That meal was sick.”
“One less sh*#ty meal I have to eat at the Sally Anne.”
“It’s not much…..” $5 from a guest who I hope knows that his kindness is uncountable.
“Your volunteers are so kind.”

You all do so much already so what else could I ask of you? Well, let me think!  Got it. We could use some plastic grocery bags, winter boots would be nice. If you can shlep your empty soda cans and wine/liquor bottles to the church, JSB funds their childrens’ programs by the refunds and sale of cans.  One more really important need: for my friend who, after 14 years of homelessness, has an apartment. Does anyone wish to donate a used folding bridge table and just 2 folding chairs? Please? I’ll pick it up asap.

Looking forward to seeing you next week, when the menu will read Lasagne but the meal will be the experience.



Cindy, now that the bj opening is is time.....u must set up a personal blog or an OOTC blog. I promise, u will get followers and we will read it. Pls at least consider the idea.....Andrea

December 7, 2010

Good Morning, OOTC Volunteers.

We are off to a delicious start and I thank all of you for your compassion, smiles, time and energy. In the month of November, you fed exactly 650 guests, a number far greater than any other year. There are so many new guests and it has been nice to reconnect with our “regulars.” They continue to come back because I am sure they are in need. Many look uncomfortable and embarrassed at first, but because of your spiritual abundance and social capital they soon fit in.

“In the Jewish tradition, we say that kindness, social exchange, is greater than charity, financial gifts. Kindness can be exchanged between rich and poor; it is class blind...We cannot eat kindness, but we can be fed by kind people.”  Andrea Cohen-Kiener

One guest said last night to Mark, “It’s hard to feel poor after a meal like this…. Best meal I’ve eaten in years.” Another, “Tuesday is the best night of the week.” And another, “My stomach is rejoicing.”
Our Hanukkah celebration last night consisted of vegetable barley soup and buns, roast brisket, 350 latkes with applesauce, hot veggies, tossed salad, and cupcakes covered with sky-high frosting topped off with foil covered chocolate gelt!  “There was nothing left.” Ah, that familiar adage once again.

In the Hanukkah story, Jews are linked to the Maccabees not just through common bloodlines, but through common purpose. While they found the courage to stand their ground and speak their minds, we continue to raise our voices against injustice. And while they discovered in oil a miracle of hope, we strive to bring this miracle to people who are most in need. So many people in our midst, each of them Maccabees, each of them struggling for their future – go hungry every day. With your help, food will be their oil, their fuel and faith on the path to a brighter tomorrow.

Thank you, thank you, everyone. Tonight, as we light the last candle on the hanukkiah, please take in the brilliant glow, the brightness, the warmth and think about the difference you make and the miracle of Out of the Cold.

See you soon,


November 4, 2010

Bev noticed that  a young woman who ate dinner looked embarrassed to be there, looked like she was fighting back tears. A guest gave $20 donation.  Donna no longer homeless.

137 Nov 2; 135 Nov 9

Sharon used to be homeless

Gallery showing: Margaret, Cameron, Andy, My file, Poetry

March 24, 2010

Dear Friends:

“This is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry – let them come and eat and all who are in need come and celebrate the Passover.” The Passover Haggadah

Our challenge this Passover, as every year, is to feel and know the Exodus, to open the gates of time and become one with those who crossed the Red Sea from slavery to freedom, and to see all those in every place who have yet to make the crossing by reaching out our hands to them. Once, it was done by miracles; today, it is by defiance and devotion. Thank you for making OOTC a ritual and responsibility worthy of reliving every year.

Our unflappable, yet hilarious volunteer co-ordinators, Joanne and Lila, are given the highest praise for their marvelous formation of an inspiring workforce. We hope you can all attend the Volunteer Appreciation Night dinner, Wed. April 7. RSVP’s are due today. Call the office at 308-8447. Vegetarian kosher meals are available by request.

“Happiness is…joy digesting!”

The dinner last night was superb and greatly appreciated. Pea soup, turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, roasted potatoes, vegetables, salad, fruit and ice cream sandwiches were enjoyed by 132 guests. One man asked last night, “What house of worship do you belong to?”  I asked the reason why he inquired. He answered, “Your members treat us nicer than if we had paid for our meal. I want to know your ways.” Another kind man, while looking around the dining room, said that, without our program, he would be okay; however, many others would be destitute. Another said, “Christmas, all over again!”

Thanks again for putting in the effort and doing your best to help others. Sometimes people don’t want to be helped. Sometimes we don’t have the tools to complete the job. But that‘s not our worry. We need to take the time to try, to care and to do our best.  It’s the effort that makes the difference to those who suffer in the plague of darkness-isolation, illness, and hunger.
Wishing you Chag Sameach, Happy Passover and Easter!

See you all in the fall,


PS  A beautiful women’s Danier brown leather jacket with paisley lining was left in the volunteer room a week ago. It’s not my size, so please claim it and I’ll deliver it ASAP.


Thanks for including me - I really enjoyed being part of the team.  Let me know if next year you can pencil me in full time instead of just two weeks a month.  Mark

Good afternoon Cindy!Dinner Tuesday night looked fabulous; wish there were some leftovers to take-out. Interesting that the gentleman you mentioned in your comments below assumed that we were linked to a house of worship" and not just nice people.  I do consider volunteering to be an extension of my worship to God and trust that He too is as pleased. Julia

March 17, 2010

The Gardener’s Edition

“He who sows courtesy, reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

For the last twenty years, I’ve had my nose to the wind searching for the first sniff of Spring, sweet woodruff, and the magical perfume of lily of the valley, which was my Bubbie Lil’s favourite scent.   I started composting long before the city said it had to be done. Coffee grounds, tea bags, corn cobs, lettuce leaves are reincarnated under the roses and resurrected in the rudbeckia. I must say the first time a seed germinates or a bulb pierces the ground, I find my own homespun religion. (With help from Kathy Renwald.)

My two large composters are full with the vegetables, fruits and egg shells of OOTC.

I can’t wait for my hellebores to be in bloom, I have my ammonia and beer ready to kill slugs around my hostas. The first of my seed catalogue orders came yesterday and the geese have been procreating noisily on the pond behind my house. In addition, unfortunately, the furrows between my eyebrows are deep enough to plant potatoes.

In a way, I feel that I have an obligation to protect and enhance nature, living matter, which has been created by G-d. (However, I have broken the Sixth Commandment in the garden way too many times.) More often, I have learned about life and faith.

G-d plans His Creation on so many levels, but He also needs our help.”The Lord G-d took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to till it and tend it.” Genesis 2:15  Although gardening can be exhausting, I never grow tired of it.  The same can be said of OOTC.  Through this long winter, you have all been of intrinsic worth to this OOTC endeavour – planting words of encouragement, faith, sunshine and, let us not forget, feeding beyond Miracle-Gro’s capabilities. (Case in point: dinner last night. Vegetable soup, meatballs and pasta, vegetables and salad and fruit-outstanding for 128 guests and 18 overnight guests.)

We know how to make things grow better now than ever before. No one in the world needs to go hungry. If people starve, it is for political reasons and not because we have not learned how to make more and better food available.  There is such an imbalance, but I believe the Hamilton landscape is changing, pushing out the too-powerful weeds like greed and complacency and ignoring the poor and hungry.

Thanks, one and all, for everything you do!  We are all reaping rewards.



Cindy you are so inspiring and it is a treat to read your weekly message. Thanks so much for all you do. Have a good week. Jeanette

Thank you very much.  May God richly bless you & keep you. George & Sybil

March 10, 2010

Dear Friends:

Let’s play catch-up. I ran off to Chicago last week without giving you an update of last week’s dinner extravaganza. The holiday Purim was celebrated with 115 guests salivating over brisket (thanks so much, Bev,) and mishloach manot for everyone!  Hamantashen, chocolates, fruit and more. Wacky riddles on the tables promoted conversations between guests, guessing the answers and celebrating their accomplishments. Why had we never thought of that before?  "No true Jewish simcha is complete unless it is shared with friends and with the needy…." (Rabbi Irving Greenberg, The Jewish Way)  Way to go, everyone!

Helena, Didi, Carol and Shirley have left for Israel! We will miss them, but wish them all   tzeit chem b’shalom, travel in peace and safety. (I bet they find a shelter at which to cook and serve!)
As for last night, phew!  Five pots of red lentil soup were devoured. One guest said, “It tasted a lot better than it looked!”  Everyone agreed. Not a chunk of chicken left, or salad, or vegetable or fettucine alfredo. With 136 guests, I must applaud all of our servers who are so experienced at portion control that everyone got fed! You are all remarkable! Why did so many come for dinner on such a gorgeous Spring day? (Almost Spring; I can count the days on two hands now.) As the OOTC season nears its end, guests are taking their last advantage of a different kind of soup kitchen. They are served with dignity, spoken to, acknowledged and treated to delicious food.  We know that you can’t get rid of poverty by giving people money, and you can’t build communities without opening doors and welcoming one another and the sunshine in!

Please plan on celebrating at the OOTC volunteer appreciation dinner, April 7. Invitations are a-coming if you didn’t get one already last night.

There is a special event on Saturday May 1, 3 pm at Centenary United Church 24 Main St. W. The Tempus Choral Society presents Come to the Music, a Spring Benefit Concert for Out of the Cold. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased from me.

Have a wonderful week.


February 24, 2010

Hello friends!

For the last two Tuesdays, I’ve been missing something, a piece of my OOTC apparel…. my name tag!  The rest of my uniform is usually blue jeans and a long sleeved black top with my lariat of keys and stylish sequined cell phone holder around my neck, but, of all that chazarei (Yiddish-worthless stuff, junk), the one most meaningful thing with which I adorn myself weekly, is my name tag. For me, when I pin it on, there is just a momentary reminder of a holy commitment I’ve made, a reminder of my responsiblilities, it’s weightiness but not it’s weight.  Don’t laugh at me! I’m not going crazy. I know I'm in my own little world, but it's ok. They know me here. Besides, I’ve noticed how some of you have your own “special” OOTC clothes or dishgloves, or aprons, etc.  How do you feel about them and how do they make you feel when you put them on?

The Torah portion this week, T’tzaveh, speaks of G-d’s instructions to Moses to have made sacral vestments for honour and for beauty which would be worn by the High Priests. Those who made the clothes understood that more was going on than just creating an external physical appearance. They would symbolize inner vestments, noble qualities which are the vestments of the soul. These holy garments were to be an improvement of their souls and their characters so that their inner selves would be clothed in majesty and splendour.. Nehama Leibowitz   They would be a reminder to those who would wear them, of all the commandments and to be holy to G-d.  (For example, the breastplate, with the names of the twelve tribes, would remind the priest that he serves for the people.)

To me, my name tag, as insignificant as it may seem, is a reminder to be holy through justice and compassion, a mental elevation, a paying attention to the way I conduct my life. It is reminder of the wonderful group with whom I identify and the delicate balance between belonging and individual uniqueness. “To wear clothes with dignity, therefore, is not about self aggrandizement, but service, it is about humility, a sense of place, and a reminder of purpose.”  Rabbi Irwin Zeplowitz
So, by next week, I’ll make myself a new name tag …maybe with a little glitz….. and I will be complete again in my commitment on the job!

Now let me report on last night’s dinner and this morning’s breakfast. Delicious vegetable barley soup, guests’ favourite meatloaf, a new dish: couscous was a hit-hit (Lila’s brilliant literary contribution.) It was combined with grilled eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes from Adas Israel Synagogue as was the potato kugel, corn and peas, salad, apples. Amazing!  One hundred-sixteen dined and nineteen slept over. Welcome to Tzvia who has joined our morning cooking crew. Born and raised in Israel, then to the States, then to Canada, Tzvia has a wide range of cooking specialties and comes to us at a bargain price, like all of you!  This morning at breakfast, Sharon and daughters Melissa and Ashlee prepared a wonderful breakfast.  One guest, Don, made a plea to them with his best puppy dog eyes, “Hey, I’m up for adoption.”  Hope they took that as a compliment; he really meant it!

Have a perfect week everyone.



Many thanks Cindy.  Trust that God's richest blessings favour and wisdom continue to surround you and be manifest in God's loved ones whom you serve.  WEAR  YOUR  NAME  TAG  WITH  PRIDE &SERVICE TO ALMIGHTY  GOD. Love, Sybil & George

hi cindy, ienjoyed it so much, its great to feel useful, alot of times ive been housebound and its great to get out into a relaxing enviroment.  last night i made your meatloaf and mashed potatoes for howz and leeav and they just loved it. today i saw ronna and she said your guests really loved it. yay!  tz

February 17, 2010

2010 Olympics Edition

Conditions were excellent!  Perfect temperatures even for an indoor venue. You dodged every chair available in the church with such precise execution. There was fair play in the hall with the understanding that no one would get seconds until all were served firsts. And the culinary award went to Jill and Andrea for their “Breakfast of Champions Chicken.” It is dipped in egg, then crushed cornflakes, baked skin side down, then turned over and drizzled with a mixture of lemon juice, sugar, curry powder, paprika, salt, then baked some more.  (Complete recipe in Second Helpings; my family’s favourite Shabbat chicken.)  The entire meal was wiped out by 123 cheering fans, totally sold out; 18 slept over.

With so much to wash, the men by the sinks owned the podium. Jon, Mike, Philip, Howard - heads down, breathing hard, sweat, a team creating a majestic updraft for others! How do they have the stamina to do it, given the pressure from the drying staff?  Plates, bowls, cutlery, mugs are passed with more fluidity than a baton.

The curlers swept the floors “hurry hard.” May I invite you to my place after the Games? A huge cheer went out when Howard received a call declaring a Canadian Gold Medal win in Women’s snowboard cross from some place called Vancouver.

An OOTC record was set Tuesday night!  We completed our course by 6:21:24 pm. There were minor setbacks (ran out of soup), botched the landing of a few dishes, not getting the results we’ve expected with the growing numbers of overnight guests, but still we should be very happy with our performance!

Your award ceremony to collect well deserved Gold medals will be Wednesday, April 7 at the OOTC Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. Don’t plan on being anywhere else!

What a team! See you at our next event,



I so enjoy reading your emails Cindy.  Thank you for the entertainment, enlightenment, encouragement, inspiring and heart-warming.  I pray that you have an awe-inspiring day! Julia

Well done Cindy. I feel as though you are next to me at the events. LOL.Shirley

Dearest Cindy, Who knew your Judaic wisdom could be equalled by your sporting metaphor?Thank you, as always, for your thoughtful and creative observations of the work we all love to do, made more joyful through your leadership and kindness. Fondest regards from an appreciative out-fielder, Norma

You deserve a gold medal for what you do. Not only are you fantastic in the way you organise and run the programme,  your weekly reports are worth waiting for. This time we think you set a record and raised the bar heigher than ever before. Bless you, Arlene and Ken

February 10, 2010

Dear Friends:

Some of you may know of a lovely creation myth by Isaac Luria (the Ari, 1534-1572.) In it, G-d placed throughout the world vessels filled with light.  Due to human activity, the vessels burst leaving shards of divinity scattered all over the world. This myth teaches us that the world is a mess, but yet is packed with hidden treasures, divine in their content. Yet, we must search endlessly for these hidden shards. The task to find these treasures means that we must wade through our untidy world righting wrongs, finding and conquering evil and injustice until the world is redeemed by collecting enough of the sparks to liberate G-d.  We don’t sit idly by while others suffer, rather we resist the bad and work to do the good, to make a difference in the world.

It is not in the nature of things for the good to rise automatically. For the good to renew itself takes conscious effort.  With only six weeks left of our program, it is obvious that your stamina in searching for light has not diminished at all. There were 119 very satisfied guests for dinner last night, and 12 (including 4 women) who slept over.

By creating an atmosphere of community, OOTC is finding the light. Last night, I saw many examples. Volunteers calling guests by their names, or finding a moment to chat, or re-acquainting with a guest who has not been seen in a little while, welcoming new ones, going the extra mile when someone is struggling with bags or walker. You are all doing such a wonderful job.

Also, exciting news. Norma’s son, Adam Bender, who volunteered at OOTC for many seasons, graduated top of his class in infantry training and also was awarded the more personally prestigious "Comradeship Award", voted on by his peers. Adam is now stationed in Petawawa, as part of the Royal Canadian Regiment.  Yasher Koach, Adam! Your determination to better the world is admirable!

Some of our productive MAC students will be missed next week, but we wish you all a wonderful holiday.

See you soon, Cindy

PS Some of my predictions of Jan 21st, have come true. One of the female guests has permanent lodging in the west end.  Julio never returned. It is snowing because my husband is away! Oh, where is the shovel???? Take care out there!


Dearest Cindy, Always an inspiring missive from you!  How many people have said you should have been a rabbi?I can't believe we have only six weeks left.  I have had my head occupied with my own challenges and I am heartened to think about change and spring, and how soon my courageous snow drops and crocuses will be peeping out at me! Thank you for mentioning Adam.  I am so proud of his commitment and integrity. Serving at Out of the Cold certainly contributed to his sense of humility, good fortune and purpose to make the world a better place.  The privilege of serving and knowing such fine volunteers and guests has been a very important part of my life and I feel blessed. Thank you for your thoughtful and inspiring leadership.Take care, Norma

February 3, 2010


This morning a homeless guest bid farewell with the words, “Shavuah Tov*.” I was stunned.
He has been taking courses in Judaism, in Torah, which means that, not only has he enriched his life with knowledge, but he also knows what Jews hold dear. From our long sojourn and experience as slaves in Egypt continuing to our freedom and our years of wandering in the desert in order to become a nation, we are to appreciate, no, to struggle for justice and sensitivity to others, the downtrodden.

My friend needs help and I’m trying, really hard.  He wants casual work, he wants solitude, he wants to rid himself of student loans, he wants to get back to Life. But it is so complicated.  How can I claim to be a Jew, yet turn away from a friend in need.

How can people be so heartless, How can people be so cruel. Easy to be hard, easy to be cold.  How can people have no feelings. How can they ignore their friends. Easy to be proud. Easy to say ‘No.”
Especially people who care about strangers.  Who say they care about social injustice. Do you only care about the bleeding crowd. How about a needing friend…  How can people have no feelings, you know I’m hung up on you, Easy to give in, Easy to help out. Easy to be Hard.  (Hair)

I see so many people trying to help out. At our recent board meeting, it was astonishing to see that donations from individuals have risen dramatically. A chef/shopper stepped forward to fill a vacancy yesterday as did security men who answered my desperate call for help. (I actually had to fight them off for there  were so many offers.)  Mike, our security guard, subdued Leo last night. If you were there at the dinner hour, you know that Leo likes to call out my name, loudly. But, this morning he was very sorry for acting up; he was “corked.”  All was forgiven. It would have been so easy to be hard last night, but we know Leo. How could we ignore him and throw him out into the cold night?  And of course, there were 117 guests to help devour 55 lbs of meatloaf, salad, corn, pasta, latkes, pickles, fruit and four delicious pots of split pea soup. Ten guests slept over, with above mentioned friend assisting guards by stacking chairs and removing tables and waiting until all had helped themselves to the Tropicana Orange Juice.  With so few coming for breakfast, Mom Sharon and daughter, Melissa, 15, were able to be short order cooks, preparing their specialty, French toast for Sandra and others, as well as scrambled eggs.

Sometimes, OOTC is just easy; sometimes it is hard.  Don’t be surprised if I cry out for help. It’s only because I know you will answer, that I ask.

Shavuah Tov*,

*Traditional greeting used on the threshold of a new week.


You owe me a box of kleenex!!!    Have a good week. carolyn

Well done, as always! Bless you. Ahuva

January 27, 2010

Dear Friends:

What drives you to participate in OOTC?  Is it social stimulation, family bonding, the desire to help the needy? Or is it the will of G-d? A Commandment? Mitzvot?

There are perhaps two types of mitzvot. Mishpatim are society-oriented mitzvot whose utility are clear. i.e: Do Not Murder.  Chukkim are mitzvot whose meanings are less obvious; their purpose hidden from us perhaps because of the incapacity of our intellects or the deficiency of our knowledge but they are commanded.. i.e: The mixing of wool and linen. Both the mitzvot are stressing the idea that the principal beneficiaries of the commandments are Us, not G-d. It affects the person who performs the mitzvot, refining and elevating the human being. (Nachmanides)

Why should we follow these mitzvot? Various commentators have suggestions: It will bring us closer to G-d, holy, emulating G-d, it’s a decree, to purify humanity, to make us aware of consequences, subservience to G-d, mindfulness.

One who fulfills the mitzvot in a dry, mechanical way has less of a chance of being one who “rejoices in acting justly.”  Maimonides

At OOTC, performing a mitzvah with deep understanding of its function makes the fulfillment qualitatively better. The act of a mitzvah is not just a bodily movement; it involves heart and mind, too. Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb

There were so many expressions of mitzvot last night. Ahuva and Fred have the knack of buttering the buns “lavishly.”  The cooks led by Patricia satisfied the tastes of our 106 guests with broccoli soup, chicken with mushroom cream sauce, rice. All of it GONE. Comments: “Better than a restaurant,” “Deadly,” “The red ribbon is awarded to you!”

Getting to the church by 6:15 am, Ruth and Ron made breakfast for 13 guests who were so appreciative.

One volunteer said to the coordinator of volunteers last night, “Thanks for letting me come!”  We are thrilled to produce so many mitzvah maniacs with a routine of “feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and breaking the chains of the bound.” “(You) have a very broad notion of self, including as many people as possible. Your neighbour’s problems are yours. Your city’s problems are yours. Your planet’s problems are yours… Your ‘me’ is ‘we.’Rabbi Elyse Goldstein

See you next week,


January 21, 2010

Hello friends.

Here, finally, is my blurby-thing for the week!  It would have been on time, except for my crystal ball’s lack of reverence of my daily schedule.  Before too much of 2010 swooshes by, I thought I would give you my predictions for the coming year.

First, I should give you just one of my credentials so that your faith in said predictions are not just swept away with a roll of the eyes and a press of the delete button.

In last week’s blurby-thing, I hinted that one of our guests would land a job at St. Joseph’s hospital. BINGO.  Mark has already had training and begun working and is smiling and tremendously grateful for the full-time job!  In my mind’s eye, I can still see his delight and pride as he took out his hospital photo i.d. for me to see. Geesh, I’m teary again!  Perhaps I should predict that more of our guests can receive the same; however, in today’s paper, the government has slashed five of the provincially funded Employment Ontario services.

So, quickly, here are just a few predictions:

*Two of our overnight guests are the women who stay with us every OOTC night. I predict that they will find permanent housing even though they are not looking or asking for it. (Two female street outreach workers came intentionally on Tuesday to speak to them. As I caught some of their interractions, it was so apparent that these workers had such rakhmones (rahkh-MAWN-is-Yiddish) for our friends. That’s compassion, empathy. Not your thin-blooded, abstract pity, but real, sloppy, emotional caring for people. It may take a lot of effort, patience and trust-building, but of all the predictions I make today, I hope…..)

*Julio, will come for ONLY dinner next Tuesday or not come in at all. Julio, originally from Columbia, but fresh off the bus from Toronto on Tuesday walked by our church door and then joined in as the line of guests was making it’s way in. After greeting him, he asked me where he might find shelter for the night.  There is nothing we like to see so much as the gleam of pleasure in a person's eye when he feels that we have sympathized with him, understood him and helped him. At these moments something fine and spiritual passes between two people. By 7:00 am the next morning, he and I were the bestest of friends. He had a good sleep, great breakfast, warm hat, lunch and an appointment with the street outreach workers from the night before. These are the moments worth living.

*Our MAC students will succeed in LIFE.  They know who they are. These young people must be such a source of pride for their parents and communities who have raised them. (It’s okay, kids, this is one of my blurby-things that you can forward to your parental units!)  They smile and kibbutz with guests and fellow OOTC’ers, clean and unplug toilets (yeah, Sid), dry dishes, mop floors, slop food, hop over mats while juggling exams, essays, classes, and, very likely, other volunteer and interest group. If any of you ever need a reference ...

*I adamantly predict that we will have a snowstorm between Sunday and Wednesday.  (It always snows when my husband, the snow remover in the household, is away.)

*I predict that we will be serving chicken next week.  The sloppy joe’s was a hit this week when 117 dined. I predict that we will have closer to 100 guests on Feb 2nd. BTW, that’s the day that SoupFest, an annual fundraiser for Living Rock Ministries, attracts thousands of people.

Well, friends, I sort of expect that some of you, in the future, will congratulate me on my predictions.  Having said that, allow Rabbi Phil Cohen to say the rest. “Let’s make the following point. You never know what’s around the corner.  I mean, we think we do, and most of the time in fact we do. We turn the corner and it’s just as we remember it from yesterday. But our lives are filled with enough insecurity so that occasionally when we turn the corner we encounter something unknown, and often something unpleasant.  How many of us would prefer, if we could, to turn the clock back and avoid 9-11 and its consequences?  Or turn the clock back and do something about housing loans before we hit a crisis point?  Or have a chat with Bernie Madoff  early on? But time doesn’t work that way.  The events that fall into the vortex of time are events we only have control over after they occur. Which is to say we have no control over them at all.  All we can do is analyze them. Retrospect and predictions are nice, and useful, but it cannot undo what’s already been done. At best, if we’re smart, if we learn, if we’re trainable, we can avoid the same thing happening again. Second, since we don’t have absolute control over what’s around the next bend, let’s enjoy our lives while we’re here to enjoy them.”

Bye for now.


Hello Rabbi (Phil) Cohen. It's long overdue, but I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy receiving your e-mails. They always make me pause and think a bit deeper about your topics which are engaging because you always seem to make them personal and tactile.By now, G-d willing, your boo boo is just a dorky memory, I hope! So please, keep me on your e-mail list knowing that it's making an impact!
Cindy Richter

Dear Cindy, Every now and again something like an email has the capacity to make my day just a little richer.  Your email was one such event.  Thanks a lot, and I have no reason to excise you from the list.  As you can see my missives have been sparse of late, but they will keep coming.
Thanks so much for writing.
All the best.Phil

Hello Rabbi: Gee that was so nice. Now, I'll send your day soaring past "richer" all the way over any person on the Forbes List. Let me explain. As the coordinator of the Jewish community's night of Out of the Cold (a food and shelter downtown,) I write a response to each evening's offering to our volunteers, donors, interested partners. All 130 of them.This week I was looking for inspiration, remembered your New Years message and, after some cutting and pasting (hope you don't mind,) it was a go! I have attached it for you to read. You can go home for the day now, because you've done enough good!          

Cindy,  Well, now you made my week.  Thanks.    
Best,   Phil


WOW!!!!! you continually blow me away!!!!!! Can you be my "fortune" teller? You are already my  everything else!!!!!. Love, L