Dr. Clara Hammer, Jerusalem's 'Chicken Lady,' Dies at 100
The colorful and vibrant Chaya (Clara) Hammer, a long-time popular teacher who was most recently known for the "chicken fund" she ran single-handedly on behalf of needy families in
She was commonly known as “the chicken lady,” because her fund was based on distributing free chickens each week to hundreds of families. She went on to provide some $10,000 worth of meat each week practically up until her death; the fund is now run by one of her great-granddaughters.
Chaya married Efraim Hammer at a young age, having met him at an event whose themes of Torah, Zionism, and the Hebrew language were to shape their shared lives together for the next several decades.
Dr. Hammer, who received an honorary "doctorate in kindness" from
In an interview with Aish HaTorah in 2008, Dr. Hammer recalled her own experience with hunger. After she was captured as a young girl with her family while crossing the border between
From jail, the family moved to the
Chaya married Efraim Hammer at a young age, having met him at an event whose themes of Torah, Zionism, and the Hebrew language were to shape their shared lives together for the next several decades. Mrs. Hammer was known as an especially gifted and lively teacher; teachers in the Kingsway Jewish Center in
The Hammers lived in
In 1969 she and her husband finally fulfilled a life-long dream and made Aliyah (immigrated) to
The Hammers were followed later on Aliyah by their three daughters and their families.
Chaya often recounted how one Friday, almost 30 years ago, she was buying meat at her local butcher and noticed a young girl receiving scraps of bone and fat. When she commented to the butcher, he explained that the girl's father was disabled and unable to work, the family was very poor, and the bone and thistle would be mixed in a soup to provide a bit of nutrition.
Mrs. Hammer immediately told the butcher to give the girl two chickens and a pound of chopped meat every week, and to charge it to her account. She then began to tell friends and family about the needy families in her community, and started to gather funds for chicken for a growing number of families.
By 2008, she was providing chicken to more than 120 families a week. She also looked for other ways to help the families, such as by providing school supplies or clothing, and reached out to families in other cities as well.
In addition to the YU honorary doctorate, Mrs. Hammer received many awards, including Yakirat Yerushalayim and Eishet Chayil, and was a leading member in Emunah Women, Hadassah, Bikur Cholim, the League for Special Children, and more. She founded the flourishing Bracha chapter of Emunah in Jerusalem for English speakers.