Group chairwoman Jane Kessler with some of the knitted goodies
The intrepid knitters of ESRA’s Knitting Club in Raanana are still coming to the rescue of those in need in Israel. The club was originally formed around 1991 by Rene Lees, Rene Ross and a few close friends who enjoyed knitting and crocheting.
What started out as a weekly social meeting, drinking coffee and chatting, evolved into a knitting club with the push of the late Esta Azouz. At first the ladies knitted for their families, but then they decided to put their skills with knitting needles and crochet hooks towards providing the needy with blankets, sweaters, scarves and hats to stay warm and comfortable in our damp and rainy winters. That is how the ESRA Raanana Knitting Club was born.
The running of the club passed from Esta Azouz onto Wendy Goldstein who together with other club members expanded the size of the club to more than 40 members, as well as expanding the number of charity organizations that became the keen recipients of the club’s beautifully handmade items.
During the last seven years the club has been run by the indefatigable Jane Kessler with the help of Michele Kriege, both of whom every Tuesday, fetch wool from the storeroom at Wendy’s home, organize tea, schlep blankets, sweaters and scarves back to be stored, contact charity organizations which collect blankets and clothing, and organize the transfer of these lovingly knitted items to those in need. It has reached the point where charities put in orders for specific items from club members. For example, a children’s charity recently requested 200 sweaters for the winter which the club members worked hard to provide. In 2016 alone the club donated over 1,500 handmade items to different charities in Israel!
The industrious women who make these beautifully handmade garments and toys range from 65 to 94 years of age. What started out as a mainly English-speaking group of women has grown into a multi-lingual gathering where one also hears Spanish, Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian being spoken, while the common language that everyone understands is Knitting and Crochet.
A happy recipient of the Knitting Club’s items
The knitting club provides a sociable morning out for these industrious women, allowing them to discuss ideas, share birthdays, drink tea, while at the same time giving them all a sense of purpose and pride in knowing that their hard work is going to a worthy cause. A wonderful air of camaraderie exists amongst the ladies who exchange patterns, learn new techniques from each other and encourage each other in their creative endeavors.
And so how did the Raanana Knitters Club come to the rescue of a community once again? Last November, when bush fires devastated parts of Israel, the community of Neve Tsuf lost their homes in the blaze and were left bereft of everything they had. One of the club members, Rivka Wallace, received a call from her daughter saying that the community needed help. The knitting club responded by sending carloads of blankets, sweaters, scarves, hats and knitted toys to the members, providing some warmth and comfort against the looming wintery weather.
Jane, the group’s chairwoman, comments on her hardworking members of the club whom she calls an “inspiration”. Indeed, it is due to the generous spirit of the women of the ESRA Raanana Knitting Club that Israel’s needy continue to benefit from their beautifully handmade items that give the gift of color, warmth and snugness to those badly needing something soft and comforting to hold onto in the coming cold, gloomy days of winter.
Editor’s note: ESRA has knitting clubs in Modiin, Raanana, Rishon LeZion and Tel Aviv. See details in Regular Events