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Knitzvah Mitzvah Keeps Seniors Warm
Wednesday, December 29, 2021


They started knitting when everyone was complaining about the mercury climbing to 90 degrees in Sun Valley.

And, just recently, the Wood River Jewish Community Knitzvah Mitzvah brigade delivered the scarves, blankets and hats they’d spent the past few months making to The Senior Connection to keep homebound seniors warm during the winter.

Mitzvah in Hebrew means a good deed or act of human kindness. Knitzvah? Well, the Rabbi Robbi Sherwin came up with that!

“It was great because we even had some outside the WRJC join in the effort,” said Coni Foster, who organized the project. “Among them, members of the Wood River Community Orchestra.”

The Knitzvah Mitzvah project actually began in 2020 as many weathered the pandemic in the safety of their homes. But this year, seeking the opportunity to build fellowship around the knitting needles,  Foster set up several get-togethers for knitters to get together around lemonade and snacks.

Problem was she sought to have them outside because of the pandemic. And that wasn’t always welcoming when smoke from the Bootleg Fire in Oregon or fires in northern California drifted over the valley.

But taking the step to have needle gatherings outside had its rewards, too. Six elk hung out in the woods at the edge of Ring’s backyard, occasionally turning their heads to check out the knitters as if they were supervising the group of women.

Last year the group made hats and scarves, wearing gloves as they worked out of pandemic caution, and handed them off to students in the I Have a Dream program to distribute.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Foster. “It’s not only giving people handmade warmth but it’s good for us psychologically—we feel good when we do it.”

As the women knitted, they shared memories the act of knitting brought out. One had knitted a baby sweater and cap and went on at length about how the baby had grown.

They also introduced themselves to one another as they worked—Gail Stern, for instance, relating how she had been one of three women in a class of a hundred law students.

“Knitting is like riding a bike for some of us,” said Foster. “It comes back quickly and reminds us what we used to know. For those of us who are younger it’s something tangible or something we can do that benefits others.”

In all, about two dozen women took part this year—some very knowledgeable about the basics of knit and purl and some wanting to learn.

Some of the women knitted from second homes in California, Nevada, even New Jersey. But Foster loves it when they can get together in person because of the connection it can bring.

 “I’ve been coming here 30 years and this year, maybe because of COVID, I felt I needed to be more involved,” said Flora Mason. “When I heard about this, I thought, I can knit and I can do something for another person. It takes you out of yourself.”

“I hope we will grow as a group,” said Ring. “This group is open to everyone—and it’s a way to meet people and become friends. Anything that draws us together, especially after last year, is wonderful.”








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