In hot and sunny Los Angeles, a group of women are knitting winter hats for the cold Israeli winter at Knit Culture LA. These hats are not just any ordinary winter hats. They have a special purpose.
The hats are being donated to LIBI USA, the official fundraising division of the IDF, through a campaign called Hats for Israeli Soldiers. Hats for Israeli Soldiers was inspired by Channah Koppel, a mother of an IDF soldier and a fervent knitter.
Channah Koppel spoke to Breaking Israel News, and explained how she began this campaign,
“This project started when my son was a paratrooper serving on the snowy Hermon about 7 years ago. My knitting circle wanted to do a small, charitable project and we decided to knit 10 hats for his unit. As soon as we did so, other soldiers requested hats too, so I turned to the online community with a simple pattern and a simple plan — knit a hat, mail it to me, and I’ll get it to an IDF soldier who could use it. The response was amazing. People love the idea of an immediate, personal gesture. You sit down and make a hat in a few hours and then a cold soldier wears it on his head for months or years. Since those first emails, I’ve been receiving over 100 hats a week from around the world, we’re talking over 35,000 hats. It’s a way for people to show their appreciation to the soldiers of the IDF for the hard work they do, and it’s deeply appreciated by the soldiers themselves. It’s a tremendous morale booster to know that there are people around the world who care that you’re putting yourself on the line for the Jewish state”.
The hats are hand-knit, packaged and sent to IDF lone soldiers soldiers fighting on the ground to keep Israel safe. Koppel has taken it upon herself to make sure all lone soldiers receive a hand knit hat. She explained to Breaking Israel News that knowing these soldiers are so far away from their families is just an extra reason why they must be taken special care of.
Elizabeth Rowen, Knit Culture LA store owner, explained her own personal connection with the amazing young men and women of the IDF.
“My son just completed his service in Golani this past summer,” she said. “I am a second generation Holocaust survivor. My father’s side of our family lost 82 family members in Poland to Hitler. My son carried the names of all our lost relatives in his flak jacket everyday that he served.”
“He missed being deployed to Gaza by weeks. He lost several friends who I came to know and care for during my trips to Israel to see my eldest son. We were heartbroken over the loss of his closest friend in the IDF, Max Steinberg. They both grew up here in Los Angeles and being lone soldiers together gave them the opportunity to form a tight bond.”
Rowen added that “support of Israel and the IDF is crucial to my family and me.” Being able to take part in the campaign to help soldiers feel a “little warmer during the winter months” is very important to this mother and supporter of the Israeli army.
“Allowing me to raise awareness and support for Israel and the IDF through my yarn store customers makes me feel in some small way I can give back for all that Israel and its troops do to keep us safe.”
Because of the example Rowen has set, her son Teddy chose to get involved as well. He has started a non-profit project based out of Los Angeles called Tzevet Aish, the first dedicated program outside of Israel with around the clock support for those who have served in the IDF. The goal of Tzevet Aish is to establish a network of lone soldiers for the purpose of providing them support and assistance that are necessary for them to reacclimate to society.
The hat pattern, approved by the IDF, is simple and easy to knit. Knit Culture LA has made it very easy to join the campaign:
1) Get the pattern FREE on Ravelry: “Ribbed Watchman Cap” by Channah Koppel
2) Get the right yarn, Knit Culture LA offers two great options.
3) Knit the hat following the patterns sizing specifications.
4) Drop the finished hats off at the LA store or mail them in.