Mitzvah Day: Volunteers pack a heavyweight punch

November 19, 2009
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Nico  McGill holds a handprint poppy made by Wimbledon Reform children to remember soldier Paul Mervis

Nico McGill holds a handprint poppy made by Wimbledon Reform children to remember soldier Paul Mervis

The New London Synagogue in St John’s Wood was transformed into a warehouse-cum-sorting office as 61 volunteers collected and packed relief parcels for refugees and asylum seekers.

They filled 408 bags and boxes weighing a total of almost 2,500 kilos, as well as 397 kilos of rice. They also sewed 46 woollen scarves and collected £180 worth of phone cards. Event leader Angela Gluck said: “As a people we’ve known what it means to be displaced so this is very close to all our hearts.”

Two-hundred Hendon Synagogue members of all ages engaged in a wide ranging and productive Mitzvah Day. Activities included batmitzvah girls organising gifts for Israeli orphans, Chanucah cards being written to IDF soldiers and a group of 11 painting rooms in a Norwood home. There was also a tea party for the elderly and a donation of 92 pairs of glasses to Visionaid.

“It was wonderful to see so many different generations helping each other,” said the tea party organisers, Sharon Silverblatt and Tina Korn.

Hendon Reform religion school pupils sang for residents of Jewish Care home Osmond House and, along with their parents, packed gifts donated by shul members for its Mitzvah Day beneficiaries.

Rabbi Yuval Keren said: “It was so good to see people of all ages gathered together for such good causes.”

Pupils from Bushey’s Immanuel College made an extra-curricular shopping expedition, standing outside the Just Kosher store in Borehamwood and asking customers to purchase an extra item of food to donate to the Gift charity. Kinloss Tribe members also collected for Gift outside a deli in Finchley Road.

The social action committee of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St John’s Wood, made a persuasive pitch to consumers at the O2 Centre in Finchley Road. As a result, 50 sacks and boxes of packaged goods, cleaning products and toiletries were delivered to the Doorstep Homeless Families Project in nearby Broadhurst Gardens.

Congregants of West Hampstead community Shomrei Hadath supported Cricklewood Homeless Centre. They baked cakes and bread and collected and around 50 bags of food items from shoppers at the Tesco in West End Lane. They also brought in warm clothes and undertook cleaning and gardening duties.

Jacqui Rudolph and Juliet Schneiderman organised Stanmore Synagogue’s project in aid of another scheme for the homeless — the Watford New Hope Trust. Hundreds of bags of shopping were donated by customers at the Broadwalk in Edgware.

Woodside Park Synagogue members collected non-perishable food and toiletries for the Barnet Refugee Service, promoting the physical, social and mental well-being of refugees and asylum seekers living, studying or working in the area.

South of the river, the Wimbledon (Reform) Synagogue contribution included members knitting squares for blankets for the elderly in Eastern Europe and going hospital visiting in Tooting.

Babette Lichtenstein and Muriel Levin gave a recital in the atrium of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and a class from the religion school travelled to the Cenotaph to support the Jewish ex-servicemen’s remembrance parade and rally.

Organiser Marian Conn said: “People really do want to be involved in some way, however small. I think the trick is to be able to offer them very different options so that they can choose to do something that really appeals to them.”

South London Liberal Synagogue ran two projects. For the past month, congregants have brought in toiletries and scarves for welcome packs distributed by the Separate Child Foundation, helping young asylum seekers who arrive in Britain alone.

On Sunday morning, religion school pupils and their parents sorted the items and made welcome cards to go in the packs.

In the afternoon, a tea party was held for residents of the Nightingale home. Ruth Edwards and Gill Walker co-ordinated the refreshments and entertainers included pianist Bricks Elliott-Nabarro, a religion school pupil.

    Last updated: 11:11am, November 25 2009