My Dream Socktober Shabbat

We teamed up with Adina Lichtman, founder of Knock Knock, Give a Sock, to hear how she’ll weave Shabbat dinner together with her important work to help people experiencing homelessness.

One cold night in November, I was handing out sandwiches to people experiencing homelessness in NYC when one man approached me. “It’s great that you’re giving out sandwiches,” he said, “but one thing we really need is socks, especially as winter approaches.” Here I was, sandwiches in hand, assuming I knew the best way to help people.

11895944_487594614746017_4573334086269009097_nIn reality, helping is about listening, and hearing the needs of different communities. It was a powerful lesson, and I wanted to put it into action. I began that night with a simple step: I went door-to-door on my NYU dorm floor and knocked on everyone’s doors. I asked if they would donate just one pair of their own socks to someone experiencing homelessness. To my surprise, I got over 40 pairs of socks in a single night, from a single floor. The next morning I walked out of my dorm room to find a huge pile of socks in front of my door from other people who had heard of what happened. It started small, but I knew it was such a simple concept that it could easily be grown. And most everyone has an extra pair of socks they can donate. That’s when the initiative Knock Knock, Give a Sock was created.

How to Host Your Own Socktober Shabbat:

1. Apply to be a host with OneTable (if you’ve never hosted before).

2. Post your Socktober Shabbat dinner and use “Socktober” in the title to share with the community! Ask your guests to bring a pair of socks to donate.

3. Host your Socktober dinner!

4. Connect with Adina to find out where you can donate socks in your community.

When I think about shabbat, I think about needs. It’s a time to unplug and really listen to the needs of both yourself and those around you. Shabbat a time to detach from your busy work week and just BE. For me, the concept of just letting myself BE is meditative, in a way where I let my day-to-day trivial thoughts quiet down and open my ears to the bigger questions. It’s not about the bills I have to pay or being late for a meeting. Shabbat is about other questions like… who do I want to spend my time with? Who do I want to give to?

I’ve teamed up with OneTable to spread the word about Socktober. We’re encouraging folks around the country to post their own Socktober Shabbat dinners on the OneTable platform and ask guests to bring donations of socks as opposed to the usual bottle of wine or babka to share. Once the dinners are over, KKSG will identify local shelters where hosts can donate the socks they collect. For my own Socktober Shabbat, I look forward to bringing together people I care about for a cause that’s greater than my own, for a cause that will help my neighbors in need.

My dream Socktober Shabbat includes all my friends coming to dinner wearing their craziest pair of socks (because who doesn’t love dressing up!?).

I plan invite all my closest friends plus a few new friends (perhaps one or two folks that I meet on the train, because YES that did happen to me last Shabbat!). Everyone who walks into my Socktober Shabbat would not only be wearing a crazy pair of socks, but would be carrying in 3-4 fuzzy pairs of socks for someone who doesn’t have the privilege of having a place to call home. I would serve chicken soup, and yummy Fall dishes (squash pie and corn kugel).My plan is to kick the evening off with a round of ice breakers where everyone talks about their highs and lows of the week. I’ve even prepared a few other conversation questions about what it means to have a home with the goal of helping us all be a bit more conscious the next time we pass someone on the street.

Let me know how you’re planning to celebrate Socktober around the Shabbat dinner table in the comments section below.

Sock Torah

You may be wondering how socks and feet relate to Friday night. OneTable’s Resident Rabbi Jessica Minnen explains that Jewish tradition actually has a famous story about feet. Well, at least one foot…

It happened that a passerby heard of the wisdom of Rabbi Shammai and Rabbi Hillel, two of the greatest Jewish sages of ancient times. The passerby stopped in the town where they lived and taught, and said to Shammai, “You are so wise, Rabbi. Can you teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot?” Incensed, Shammai ignored him and sent him away. The passerby then found Rabbi Hillel. “You are so wise, Rabbi,” He said. “Can you teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot?” Hillel looked at him and smiled. “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and learn it.” And so the passerby stayed and learned and lived alongside Hillel for the rest of his days.”

We learn here that living life inspired by Jewish values isn’t just about learning, it’s also about balance. How much can we learn if we are not also thinking about the welfare of our neighbors? May the story of Torah on one foot inspire us to think not only about nourishing our community, but also about caring for their bodies — in this case, both feet.

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