MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Tom Ridgeway was born blind; but he's never let that stop him from having a good time. And with the Chit-Chat club at Macon's Temple Beth Israel, it's a chance to talk it up with others who have the same disabiltiy. It's a monthly event, for the last 61 years. Tom first came to the club in 1959.
"If you know anything about the Jewish people, they're very charitable people. It's ingrained in their culture to always be doing something for the community, and this is one thing they chose to do in Macon, Georgia," says Ridgeway.
Organizers of the Chit-Chat club provide entertainment, special speakers, food, and most importantly, a listening ear.
"Anytime you can have fun, I think it's wonderful for everyone, but especially when people have impairments, they feel that they're not as worthy as others and I think this gives them an opportunity to be with other people who have those same impediments and to learn from each other and just have fun," says Chit-Chat club organizer Ann Dodson.
It's that fun and welcoming environment that's kept people coming back and set an example of service for the congregation.
"Within Judaism you have a principle called tikkun olam, which means repairing the world, or fixing the world," says Rabbi Larry Schlesinger. "It's our duty to practice tikkun olam by addressing those imperfections that are with us, and repairing them, so that our children or our children's children will inherit a world that is better than the one that we all came into."
"As Jews or as humans who inhabit this world, I think we have an obligation one to another, each of us is responsible for each other in this world," says Dodson.
At Temple Beth Israel, repairing the world doesn't happen all at once: it happens little by little, one conversation at a time.
The Chit-Chat Club meets every second Wednesday of the month at Temple Beth Israel. The address is 892 Cherry Street in downtown Macon.