Mitzvah Day: Interfaith action praised by leaders

Simon Hochhauser, Fuad Nahdi and Tony Bayfield

Simon Hochhauser, Fuad Nahdi and Tony Bayfield

Leaders of other faiths have praised the inclusive nature of Mitzvah Day — which this year coincided with the launch of the government’s Interfaith Week — saying that their own communities could learn from it.

One of the biggest projects was at Kentish Town City Farm where young Jews worked alongside Muslims and Hindus renovating equipment and stables.

The initiative impressed Fuad Nahdi, director of Radical Middle Way, which promotes mainstream understanding of Islam. “I’m proud to be part of such a noble exercise,” he said.

“I think there are a lot of opportunities for the Muslim community to be more involved in such projects.”
Bharti Tailor, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said Mitzvah Day had inspired the Hindus to create their own equivalent, Seva Day.

Also down on the farm was Reform Movement head Rabbi Tony Bayfield, who praised Mitzvah Day as “the best idea to have been thought up in years by British Jewry.”

He added: “It is really worthwhile for both our own and the wider community.”

Elsewhere in North London, pupils from Belsize Square Synagogue’s religion school took part in an interfaith meeting with Ethiopians involved in the local St Peter’s Church.

The children attended part of the Sunday morning worship and were addressed by the leader of the Ethiopian community. They then learned about Ethiopian Jews in Israel, speaking with some through a Skype link.

Cheder head Jeanie Horowitz said: “We believe that through interfaith activities and encouraging children to help others, we are giving them an opportunity to learn about the importance of trying to make the world a better place.”

Outside London, Radio Bristol and community station BCFM marked Mitzvah Day with live broadcasts and interviews.

Participants included student rabbi Moshe Baron, J-Soc chair Daniel Mulkis and the head of the university Islamic Society.

Mr Mulkis, a key local organiser, reported “many enthusiastic volunteers. And we collected lots of food which will help feed many hard-up refugee families and individuals.”

Oxford Jewish Congregation planted 200 new saplings with the help of more than 50 volunteers from the Quaker, Christian, Muslim and Ba’hai faiths.
The OJC’s community development officer
Hila Bram said: “It is a special joy to see
members of many of Oxford’s faith communities working together and being actively involved in the mitzvah of protecting our environment.”

    Last updated: 4:53pm, November 19 2009