Mitzvot from the Heart: Ethan and Nicole Kalishman

Ethan and Nicole Kalishman

Ethan and Nicole Kalishman, Congregation Shaare Emeth

Ethan and Nicole love to ski. They only can enjoy this mountain activity with proper clothing and gear that keep them warm and protected from the cold weather. Moreover, when winter weather hits home, they are fortunate to have coats, hats and gloves to keep themselves warm. For their mitzvah project, they wanted to find a way to make the cold weather months more bearable for people in St. Louis who struggle to stay warm.

Twins of Diane and John Kalishman of Ladue, Ethan and Nicole worked with the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and their congregation to promote the annual outerwear drive for new Americans. The Jewish Social Action Network, a collaborative network of Jewish congregations, coordinated by the JCRC, organized the effort for the International Institute clients. International Institute is a JCRC agency that provides comprehensive resettlement services to immigrants and refugees. 

To understand more about the challenges the new immigrants face, Ethan and Nicole visited the International Institute. They learned firsthand what the new Americans are up against in building lives for themselves in our community. Since many of these individuals come from warm climates and arrive in St. Louis with very few belongings, they have enormous needs for outerwear to help them cope with the harsh winters. After visiting the Institute, Ethan and Nicole created posters, flyers, and a presentation to share with all the religious school students. They met with every class at the Shaare Emeth religious school and described the needs of new Americans and promoted the outerwear drive. 

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“When we spoke in the classrooms, we wanted everyone to understand how hard it is for the New Americans to adjust to living in St. Louis and how much they need outerwear to survive during the winter,” said Ethan, a student at John Burroughs School. “We wanted to make sure people knew who was going to use the coats they were donating,” added Nicole, who attends Ladue Middle School.

Ethan and Nicole helped deliver what they collected; coats, hats, scarves, mittens, gloves, snow pants and more, to the International Institute where they could see the total amount of winter items collected from the drive.  The year 2014 was a record collection year. As a gesture of appreciation from the International Institute, Ethan and Nicole were given hand made thank-you cards signed by recipients of the coats.

“It made us feel so good knowing that we made a difference in their lives and that they took the time to say thank you,” said the twins in an email. “Sometimes we take for granted the warm coats and outerwear that we own. By collecting outerwear for those people who need it but can’t afford it, we hoped to do a small part to share our love of winter and skiing with other people. Doing this mitzvah project helped us understand how hard it is for immigrants to start a new life in the United States.”

“Mitzvot from the Heart” is compiled by Editorial Assistant Elise Krug.