A gemach? What’s a gemach?
A gemach (sometimes written “g’mach”) is the Jewish community’s name for a special collection of items that can be borrowed at no cost or for a small fee for a short period of time. The term is an abbreviation of the words “gemilus chasadim”, acts of kindness.
Gemachs are usually started by one or a few people who see a need and get organized. A gemach might be in a private home, synagogue, or community center. You can find gemachs that focus on practically any type of items, like toys, wheelchairs, or clothing patterns. I just got an email announcing a GPS gemach. But the most popular kind of gemach by far is the kind that offers items for weddings.
The gemach is an idea that’s centuries old, but gemachs are being rediscovered by couples planning their weddings. Gemachs cut wedding costs – and they also serve the larger goal of cutting consumption.
Whether or not you borrow anything from a gemach for your celebration, consider donating items from your wedding to a gemach near you.
The kind of things you can often borrow from a gemach or that gemach organizers are looking for are:
- Wedding dress
- Clothes for the bridal party and mother of the bride
- Folding tables
- Folding chairs
- Table linens
- Benchers (Prayerbooks with “Grace After Meals”)
Most gemachs won’t be found online. To find one in your area, contact a few local synagogues or a Jewish community center.
Ode to a Gemach
Colors subject to availability.