Northern participants rely on animal instincts

By Jonathan Kalmus, November 25, 2010
Sophia Drazen, Victoria Nabarro (Leeds)

Sophia Drazen, Victoria Nabarro (Leeds)

The gardening skills of Manchester Habonim Dror members helped preserve allotments that needy residents rely upon for fresh produce.

As their Mitzvah Day contribution, the 16-to-19-year-olds tended to plots belonging to the husband of a terminally ill cancer patient and a woman who had suffered a heart attack.

The Habonim Dror members also worked with volunteers from other faiths to renovate tools and clean chicken runs in the Faith in Community allotment. The project produces 4,000 eggs annually as well as fresh vegetables which are donated to homeless, women's and asylum seekers' shelters across the city.

Oliver Rawlings, 17, from Altrincham, said: "Just contributing to what they do there every week of the year made me feel like part of something important."

One of a range of Manchester Reform Synagogue activities saw parents and children volunteering at the 55-acre Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary near Bury.

Bird in the hand: Habonim Dror join the allotment workers

Bird in the hand: Habonim Dror join the allotment workers

"Some of the cats were a bit cantankerous so there were a few scratches," reported shul Mitzvah Day co-ordinator Joanne Orr. "But everyone had a really good time."

Other volunteers worked with Christian groups to collect £1,000 worth of food in Didsbury for charities assisting the homeless and vulnerable.

The synagogue's programme also included a concert for Heathlands residential home in Prestwich. Heathlands residents and staff marked the day by baking cakes for their peers at non-Jewish care facilities.

Third world countries were the focus for South Manchester Synagogue, which collected used mobile phones, sports kits and reading glasses for charities. Christians, Hindus and Muslims were among 70 people at an interfaith tree-planting in the Bowdon Synagogue grounds.

In Liverpool, Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger volunteered at a Barnardo's charity shop as part of a drive which resulted in the donation of 40 bags of used goods. Co-ordinator Adam Cailler hailed "a great community response".

Another Jewish Labour MP, Fabian Hamilton, was involved in Sunday's programme in Leeds, part of a year-long mitzvah chain of events. Mr Hamilton officially opened a communal Mitzvah Day at MAZ community centre, which sent out members of the Zone youth club to create their link in the chain by gardening for elderly people supported by the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board.

Youngsters from the 22nd North Leeds Hillel Scouts performed a campfire concert for residents of Donisthorpe home, followed by an X Factor-style talent contest .

Last updated: 10:59am, November 26 2010