Members of Chicks with Sticks of Hadassah of Raritan Valley — from left, cochair Natalie Herbin, Deanna Lerner, Eleanor Webber, and Libby Kislin — with some of the hats they knitted for premature babies and children with cancer at New Brunswick hospitals and for soldiers in Israel.
Photos by Debra Rubin
Become a ‘chick’
Those interested in becoming one of the “Chicks with Sticks” can contact Tillie Pass at 732-572-0753 or Natalie Herbin at 732-339-8492. You do not have to be a Hadassah member. Yarn donations are also needed and can be dropped off at Congregation Ahavas Achim, 216 South First Ave., or by contacting the chairs. The children’s hats are made from soft acrylic; hats made for IDF soldiers are made from only black “Wool-Ease worsted.”
Natalie Herbin, left, gives a knitting lesson to Rachel Kaplan and her 14-year-old daughter, Adinah.
August 4, 2009
Premature infants, ailing children, and Israeli soldiers on patrol have received gifts of love thanks to a group of “Chicks with Sticks.”
The “chicks,” through the Raritan Valley chapter of Hadassah, meet regularly to use their “sticks” — their knitting needles — to make colorful hats for “preemies” and child cancer patients at three New Brunswick hospitals.
They also knit hats — black, to provide camouflage at night — for IDF soldiers on patrol.
All have a label inside noting the hats were “made with love.”
The knitters meet every other Wednesday evening at the Highland Park home of the group’s cochair Natalie Herbin, where they chat, knit, and receive instruction.
Cochair Tillie Pass of Highland Park became involved about 13 years ago through the knitting group’s founder, the late Carol Levin.
“I don’t knit, but I do everything else,” she admitted. “When Carol passed away [in 2007] I took over.” Pass said the hats were originally being sent to California, but she decided to give them to children who needed them closer to home.
She became the “gofer,” coordinating the creation of the hats, collecting them, and distributing them to children at the hospitals.
“There’s nothing nicer or more important than to have something made for you,” she said. “It is such a mitzva. If you could see how excited the children get.”
Pass advertises for project participants mostly though the Hadassah bulletin, but recruits knitters wherever she can.
One of those more recent recruits was Herbin, a retired physical education teacher who moved to Highland Park from New York about five years ago.
About a year ago Herbin heard about a group of Israeli knitters in Efrat calling themselves “Chicks with Sticks” who were making hats for IDF soldiers. She contacted its founder, Channah Koppel, and received permission to adopt the name and take on its mission.
Herbin said travelers to Israel also take hats along to give to children at Hadassah and Shaare Zedek hospitals.
“I ask everybody if they’ll knit for me,” said Herbin, a member of Congregation Ahavas Achim in Highland Park. “I drive them crazy at shul.”
At the July 28 gathering — held that week on Tuesday because the following evening was Tisha B’Av — members sat around Herbin’s dining room table, boxes of yarn arranged on the floor. On the kitchen counter was an array of hats in a variety of sizes and colors — turquoise, pink, orange, and other bright shades.
Knitters ranged from Rachel Kaplan and her 14-year-old daughter, Adinah, who were first-time knitters, to seniors.
“Instead of the ladies who lunch,” said Deanna Lerner of Highland Park, “we’re the ladies who knit.”
Sixteen-year-old P.B. Elmekies, who was visiting for the summer from Memphis, added, “I really don’t mind knitting if it’s for a good cause like this.”