From a mother’s closet to 23 distribution centers, Yad Leah is a powerhouse of chesed. 

Since its founding in 2003, Yad Leah has blossomed into an extraordinary force, becoming a lifeline for families grappling with the challenge of providing clothing for their loved ones. 

But before Yad Leah became such a vital resource to people in the US and Israel, it had to begin somewhere. 

Who knew it would be in the back of one woman’s closet?


The incredible Yad Leah story

Twenty years ago, co-founder Karen Thaler discovered a surplus of clothing at the back of her mother’s closet. 

Realizing that these clothes could be put to good use, she decided to gather clothes from several people in her life, including her close friend Jessica Katz. She planned to distribute these clothes throughout her community.  

“What Karen realized was that there was a profound depth of poverty that she was not previously aware of,” Jessica Katz said. “I was talking to her about this, and I thought that this would be a great charity project. My kids were very young at the time, and I wanted to get them involved in giving and kindness in a hands-on way. So I figured, ‘Okay. We can reach out to a few people, put out postings, and gather clothing.’”

During this grassroots project, Thaler and Katz reached out to neighboring communities and quickly realized that there was both a tremendous need for clothes as well as a large surplus of clothing. Not only that, but people were eager to give and help. 

Thaler eventually had enough donated clothes to establish a gemach (free-loan organization) in her apartment, which expanded to larger spaces, including a one-bedroom, a two-bedroom, and a four-bedroom gemach in Betar.

Little did they know that these simple acts of kindness would lead to something much bigger.

Early challenges, big impacts

At this point, Katz and Thaler faced a crucial decision. Betar, a Charedi community in Israel, had specific dress styles and customs, such as white shirts for men and no denim skirts. Yad Leah had a vast collection of beautiful clothing and had to choose between limiting their organization to Betar or serving additional Jewish communities.

Katz and Thaler decided on the latter and began reaching out to different neighborhoods, with Bet Shemesh being one of the first.

Yad Leah’s impact quickly spread throughout Israel as Katz and Thaler established distribution centers, ensuring that neatly arranged clothing was available at affordable prices. Families could visit these shops and purchase clothing for their entire family for just a shekel or two. 

The organization’s reach expanded further, and it now boasts a total of 23 shops, including a specialty gown shop in Bet Shemesh. Additionally, Yad Leah refurbishes men’s black hats and offers them at affordable prices.

Yad Leah’s dedication to inclusivity and its commitment to helping those in need quickly gained recognition. Over time, Yad Leah’s reach expanded, and they currently send nearly 500,000 pieces of clothing—$5 million worth—annually.

What’s the secret to Yad Leah’s success?

Many people have ideas, but it takes a special group of people to bring those ideas to reality. 

Reflecting on the organization’s unexpected growth, Katz emphasized the importance of taking small steps and remaining open to unforeseen opportunities. 

“The origin story began with the intention of a chesed project I was going to do with my children,” Katz said. “There were no dreams of creating something large, like storing clothes in a warehouse. It was just a few boxes. What that taught me is that you never know where things can lead. You do your best, put one foot in front of the other. And with the help of friends and family and community and Hashem, we’re sometimes led in a direction we could have never anticipated.

“I think that we just have to do what we can, look for opportunities, and pray that Hashem will give you guidance and opportunity and supportive families, friends, and community to move things forward,” Katz said. 

Yad Leah’s success stands as a testament to the potential impact of collective effort and the profound difference that can be made one garment at a time.

Education and empowerment

Yad Leah has implemented various volunteer programs designed to engage teenagers and young individuals. Through educational initiatives and hands-on activities, these programs instill a sense of empathy and promote active involvement in acts of chesed. 

“We believe very strongly in the power of the next generation,” Katz said. “Through the experience of being hands-on, the hope is that people will become connected to what it means to be part of the Jewish nation.”

Katz envisions further expansion, including the creation of a museum and visitor center to teach about the importance of chesed and the development of a curriculum for schools.

For Katz, Yad Leah represents a vehicle for moving Jewish history forward and making a tangible impact on a variety of communities and individuals. 

The organization touches all demographics within Jewish communities, from the non-observant to the orthodox, across Israel and the US. 

“In one hour or even in a 15-minute time period, I could field phone calls from very different people,” Katz said. “The point is that both are Jews and want to be involved in helping other Jews and be involved in Klal Yisrael.”

The Daily Giving difference

One of the driving forces behind Yad Leah’s mission is the concept of giving tiny portions of what you have, consistently.

“Yad Leah is named after Karen Thaler’s grandmother, a European woman who came to America with very little,” Katz said. “Her entire mindset was that you can always share. If she had one piece of chicken, she thought that she could cut that piece in half and share it with someone else. She had this approach to life of sharing what we have.”

Through the dedication and perseverance of its founders, volunteers, and supporters, Yad Leah exemplifies the power of compassion and the far-reaching effects of small acts of kindness. 

“The concept of Daily Giving is the same,” Katz said. “We have one mission: help Klal Yisrael. Give wherever and whenever we can. Before you know it, you can transform lives and make a huge impact. That is deeply moving. To be part of that is really that motivates me every single morning.”

By contributing even a dollar a day through Daily Giving, individuals can collectively transform lives and make a significant impact. 

Join the movement and discover how you can play a pivotal role in making a lasting impact by visiting

For information on how you can help push Yad Leah’s mission forward, visit