Jewish Kids Create Face Masks

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Maya Goldman sews a face mask. (Amie Perl)
Maya Goldman sews a face mask. (Amie Perl)

Six children from Washington, D.C. are on a mission to help healthcare workers and are looking for Baltimore kids to join them.

Maya Goldman, 11, has teamed up with A Special Lee Sewing and Craft Cafe Owner Antoinette Lee to make face masks for healthcare professionals. Goldman’s classmates from Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School and friends from camp joined her to produce the masks.

Goldman and her mother Amie Perl heard about a hospital in Washington State that was asking people to sew masks for their staff, so they took the idea to Goldman’s sewing teacher of four years, Antoinette Lee. They discussed patterns and materials to use. Then, the two invited classmates to start a group sewing session March 27.

“I know how to sew and people needed masks, and so I decided to do something I knew how to do,” said Goldman.

It took some time to find elastic and fabric, as it is in short supply, according to Perl. Delivery took even more time.

“We started cutting up the elastic and fabric into ‘kits’ to give out to everyone involved,” said Perl. “We didn’t get all the fabric that we ordered though because the store keeps running out, but luckily Antoinette has a lot and she cut up many of the fabric rectangles for us.”

The first sewing session, led by Lee’s teaching, lasted two hours.

Lee was nervous at first, having never used Zoom. “It was tricky at first,” she laughed shyly, “but it was a great time.”

Micaela Fistel, 11, was already interested in sewing because of Goldman, and excited at the opportunity when she was invited to join the project. “I had never made a face mask before,” she said modestly, though her nanny had showed her a brief introduction before.

The team learned together how to make the masks, and eventually became creative with cloths to use.

Maya Perl added a pipe cleaner inside the mask for the nose bridge.

The kids got a lot done, having made almost 50 already. One mask takes about 20 minutes to make, according to Goldman.

“Well, an hour if you take preparing the supplies into account,” her mother said. Goldman shook her head in disbelief.

The kids now work on face masks in their own time, but as school is out for Passover they plan to have more zoom sessions.

For now, they are working with patterns from Multicare Deaconness Hospital in Washington’s kit of three different looks. Goldman held up a sunshiney yellow one while Fistel showed off a cute ladybug pattern.

The team is on its way to complete 100 masks for healthcare workers, and then switch to making some for the community. Perl noted that those for the community could be sold for a fundraiser to support hospitals. The first batch will go to Unity Health, which runs local health clinics. They hope a second 100 can be given to the Department of Aging, where the mother of Daniela Cotler, 12, works.

“For me, my mom comes home and tells me about her work at the nonprofit, where a lot of people are poor or live on the street so it’s really hard for them,” Cotler said empathetically. She hopes that this project will help the most vulnerable.

Goldman also personally is interested in helping the unemployed.

To join, interested kids can reach out to Perl at amieperl@gmail.com.

“At the end of the day, this is something I tell my three kids: We are all ultimately responsible for each other. There are so many people home not being able to do anything, worrying about those being abused or without food, so for children this is great for them to understand while they’re young to help others,” said Lee. “You want to come out on the other side of this and see that you did something good to help out.”

“As Jewish kids, it’s a mitzvah to do this especially because it’s almost Pesach. It’s like the plague, but doing this helps us get through it faster than we did in Egypt,” noted Fistel.                                      

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