Coffee with Kindness
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The House’s Social Action programs are a different kind of learning.

They encourage us to act outside of our comfort zones and work on some of the most challenging relationships we encounter in our lives.

The physical gifts we pass on to others usually take second seat to the lasting effect of the actual act. Not only does this form of charity give us the honour of bringing life to a Jewish law that was previously theory, it changes our understanding of the impact we have on others around us.

House event participant Lisa shared with us this beautiful, true account about her interaction with a stranger following a House social action program that we just had to share. What’s exceptional is how Lisa’s gift went beyond money: she showed a stranger kindness and demonstrated empathy for his particular needs.

We hope that this encounter inspires you to find new ways of going the extra mile in your interpersonal relationships, so that you can turn passing opportunities into memorable moments that will make you and those around you rich.


I wanted to share a quick story on the lasting effect that Hotsox had on my life:

After a beautiful evening of ice skating with some friends at Nathan Phillips Square, we went into a Tim Hortons to get some hot chocolate and warm up. A man walked in who appeared to be homeless; he smiled and put a cup in front of us.

My initial response, just like everyone at my table, was “Sorry, no,” and I quickly looked away. He walked over to the next table. Then I thought about the interactions I had during my evening at Hotsox and remembered how grateful everyone was and how the homeless seemed like genuinely good people. It was clear that most of the people we encountered had not chosen their situation and were really appreciative of the help. Although I was still hesitant to give the man money, I decided that I could buy him something.

I walked back over to the man and asked him if he wanted a coffee. He had just gotten some change from another table and he had the largest smile on his face. He turned and tried to answer yes to my offer. It was then that I realized he was not fully verbal. It was unclear if he had a stroke, or had trouble hearing, but it was obvious that he could not clearly communicate verbally. We lined up together and when asked what he wanted in his coffee, the cashier and I were able to piece together his request for a milk and two sugars.

Although I was still hesitant to give the man money, I decided that I could buy him something.

As we were waiting for the coffee I thought about the challenge this man would have trying to get a job and support himself due to his communication struggles. I am unclear of his past, but it became evident to me that his foreseeable future would be tough.

Had it not been for HotSox last month, I definitely would have turned the other way and kept going with my evening. The money I spent was change that I could afford, and was definitely worth it.

— Lisa


On November 22nd, 2015, The House and The Jewish Grad Network rallied 65 volunteers to hand out gourmet latkes and 200 pairs of socks stuffed with potatoes, so that Toronto’s homeless could enjoy a warm meal and socks on their feet.

Next Social Action Program: Everyone Deserves Desserts on February 1st, 2016.

If you would like to learn more about our Social Action initiatives, please contact Bonnie Oppenheimer, our Director of EJEE for more information: