Community life

Mitzvah Day: Show of faith in Elstree

By Jan Grenby, November 19, 2009

Three Hertsmere shuls were represented on Mitzvah Day at A Celebration of Faiths, the launch of the borough’s inaugural Interfaith Week.

The Liberal Synagogue Elstree’s Shul of Rock kicked-off the event at Borehamwood’s Village Hall before a crowd of several hundred including Hertsmere Mayor Councillor Rosemary Gilligan. The performance of Shul of Rock — a band of teenage musicians supplemented by minister Rabbi Pete Tobias on guitar — was markedly different to the church choirs that followed them.

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Mitzvah Day: New communities join initiative

November 19, 2009

Regional communities supporting Mitzvah Day for the first time included Bristol, where volunteers from the shuls and university collected groceries for the local Refugee Action Centre.

Both the Orthodox and Progressive synagogues installed boxes for members to donate spectacles for the VisionAid charity. A third project was a blood donor drive.

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Mitzvah Day: Scottish communities clear up

By Stephanie Brickman, November 19, 2009

In a collaboration between Glasgow UJIA, Maccabi and Giffnock and Newlands Hebrew Congregation, 50 Scottish youngsters tidied up the Jewish cemeteries at Sandymount, Glenduffhill and Cardonald and volunteered at care homes.

Giffnock and Newlands minister Rabbi Moshe Rubin took youngsters to the new branch of Mark’s Deli, where they asked shoppers to donate an item of food.

A similar initiative took place at the Hello Deli, with all donated goods distributed to the homeless.

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Mitzvah Day: Corrie actress takes leading role

November 19, 2009

Coronation Street actress Kate Anthony opened the Leeds Mitzvah Day programme, telling supporters at the Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Community Centre that “people shouldn’t just do a mitzvah on Mitzvah Day, but should do a small good deed to help somebody every day”.

She then made her own contribution by taping a short story for users of Leeds Jewish Blind Society’s Talking Books scheme.

Also in the city, volunteers ran a bingo session for Donisthorpe Hall’s elderly residents, who were further entertained by an X-Factor-style talent contest co-ordinated by Helen Frais.

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Mitzvah Day: Praise from government

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

Communities Secretary John Denham has praised Mitzvah Day, saying it “encourages development of shared values” in the wider community.

“People of Jewish faith, from all ages and backgrounds, took part to make a difference by helping people less fortunate than themselves.”

Volunteering or participating in activities like buying additional food to distribute to the less fortunate promoted values “that enrich and strengthen the communities we live in”.

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Mitzvah Day: Refugees get dinner invitation to St Albans

By Jay Grenby, November 19, 2009

There was food for thought as teenagers from St Albans Masorti Synagogue dined with youngsters of similar ages who arrived in Hertfordshire as unaccompanied migrant children.

Many of the refugees had made perilous journeys from countries such as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, in some cases clinging on to the underside of trucks and coaches. Taken into the care of the local county council, they often remain isolated from normal teenage life and struggle to make friends with Britons of their own age.

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Mitzvah Day: Founder delighted at success

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

Laura Marks has seen participation in Mitzvah Day snowball since she launched it five years ago. But she feels there is potential to achieve much more.

The 49-year-old Primrose Hill mum was inspired by a similar project in America.

“I felt British Jewry could really benefit from something like this.

“This year has been overwhelming. The fact you can get so many people to get out of bed on a Sunday and physically engage is quite extraordinary.

“I hope it will become the norm that on the day the whole community goes out to make a difference.”

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Mitzvah Day: Gifts galore in Manchester

By Jonathan Kalmus, November 19, 2009

Organisers at South Manchester Synagogue in Bowdon were overwhelmed by the generosity of members who donated goods for World Jewish Relief and other charities.

In addition to collections on behalf of destitute asylum seekers, Cheshire Reform held a special cheder session to make pupils aware of their plight. Youth worker Ben Abram said that “by asking them to reflect on their own family backgrounds, which include Jewish refugees”, it had been an exercise in challenging stereotypes.

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Mitzvah Day: Volunteering across the world

November 19, 2009

Providing an international flavour to Mitzvah Day, 250 UK ex-pats gathered at Kibbutz Schiller, near Rehovot, picking oranges for Leket Israel, a charity sourcing surplus food for distribution to the needy.

Project organiser Charlotte Casselson said “the response has been overwhelming. To see people of all ages and nationalities showing their support for this invaluable organisation is inspirational.” Formerly known as Table to Table, Leket Israel provides more than 110 tons of food per week to over 230 soup kitchens, homeless shelters, old age homes and other organisations.

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Mitzvah Day: Volunteers pack a heavyweight punch

November 19, 2009

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.”

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