Jewish teen brothers turn yarmulkes into face masks for the homeless

Elise Solé
Matthew Jason, 15, and his brother Jeremy Jason, 19, created "Kippahs to the Rescue," donating DIY face masks from yarmulkes. (Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Jason)
Matthew Jason, 15, and his brother Jeremy Jason, 19, created "Kippahs to the Rescue," donating DIY face masks from yarmulkes. (Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Jason)

Two Jewish teenagers are creating face masks from yarmulkes to protect the homeless community from the coronavirus.

Matthew and Jeremy Jason, ages 15 and 19 respectively, launched “Kippahs to the Rescue” from their Houston, Texas home, sewing more than 300 face masks from the traditional Jewish skullcap.

The effort arose in mid-March during their Shabbat dinner, as cases of the coronavirus continued to rise in their home state (Texas currently has nearly 1,700 confirmed cases) and personal protective equipment fell in short supply. Many health care workers don’t have supplies and it’s reportedly difficult for homeless communities to find face masks.

“We were thinking about how we can help the community and noticed that our yarmulkes, or kippahs, fit the shape of the face,” Matthew tells Yahoo Life. “We took the idea and ran with it.”

The boys, including their oldest brother Danny, 23, searched for stray yarmulkes around their home and unearthed roughly 80. “I knew we had a lot, but not that many,” says Matthew, explaining that over time, they’ve been worn to bar mitzvahs, weddings and other functions.

With mom Veronica spearheading the design process, the family spends hours sewing or clipping 6-and-a-half inch elastic bands onto yarmulkes to function as earpieces. Matthew posted a YouTube video explaining the simple steps for people who want to replicate it.

After placing a donation box outside synagogue Congregation Brith Shalom in Bellaire, Texas, the boys collected about 600 yarmulkes and gave them to Houston Food Not Bombs, an organization that feeds vegetarian meals to people in need. Volunteer Sheree Dore tells Yahoo Life that masks have been distributed with each meal in downtown Houston with social distancing measures.

The boys work on their venture in between home school assignments and two other projects that serve the homeless: Street Birthdays which provides monthly birthday cakes and A Thousand Socks (in partnership with Food Not Bombs) which donates clean socks.

“We are so proud of the Jason family,” Rabbi Teller of Congregation Brith Shalom tells Yahoo Life. “Their initiative reflects the soul of the Jewish people and the heart of our synagogue community. We partner with God to repair the world in God’s image. God provides us with raw material and the blessings of creativity. The Jasons used their passion, resources and ingenuity to help others in need. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.”

A Houston Food Not Bombs volunteer tells Yahoo Life, "The Jasons have been an incredible force at Houston Food Not Bombs for years, not just consistently bringing out vegetarian food every Friday, but also coming up with these kinds of projects that meet specific needs of the homeless community as they arise."

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides. 

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