North London entrepreneur knitting IDF beanies for serving soliders

Sarah Mann-Yeager felt the need to lend Israel a helping hand after October 7 so launched the Chesed Hats initiative to help out troops in Gaza


Like so many Jewish people around the world, Sarah Mann-Yeager felt the need to lend Israel a helping hand after the devastation of October 7.

An avid knitter for 18 years, Mann-Yeager found her charitable calling when, scrolling through Facebook, she came across a ribbed knitting pattern and a call for black beanie hats to be donated to the IDF.

And so Chesed Hats was born, a project inspired by writer and charitable knitter Channah Koppel, who developed the knitting pattern and started the Hats For Soldiers project 15 years ago.

Though Koppel retired her knitting needles in 2022, offshoots of the project like Mann-Yeager’s have kept the initiative very much alive among knitters and non-knitters alike.

“This act of loving kindness for those protecting our beloved state of Israel is not confined just to knitters,” Mann-Yeager said.

“Non-knitters have been donating to the Yarn Fund, and this mitzvah helps a knitter either here or in Israel create another mitzvah by knitting the hat.”

Through the generosity of said non-knitters, Chesed Hats has raised 2,500 NIS (£530) to donate to the Gourmet Yarn Shop in Ra’anana, which will distribute yarn to various knitting circles in Israel to be made into more hats.

The Gourmet Yarn Shop as well as the Michael Levin Center for Lone Soldiers in Jerusalem collect the knitted beanies to then send to Israeli soldiers.

“We have had a great response from those in Israel, who are so delighted that we are trying to do something to help,” said Mann-Yeager. “The added bonus of sending money for yarn purchases also helps to support the economy, which is suffering, due in part to a lack of tourism.”

In addition to running the family business Louis Mann & Son Ltd, a kosher butcher in Edgware, and contributing recipes to the JC, Mann-Yeager is a volunteer with several Jewish charities, including Campaign Against Antisemitism and the Menorah Mitzvah Mission.

“My wonderful and much missed grandmother Anne, a wonderful knitter and dressmaker herself, used to say: ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person!’”

A couple of batches of beanies have been sent out to Israel since Chesed Hats was launched a month ago.

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