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Mitzvah Day 2017: Compassion and kindness inspires Chief Rabbi

Community relations were fostered by more than 100 interfaith projects.

    Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis sorted clothes for a homeless shelter alongside the Archbishop of Westminster and a Muslim Council leader. Tracy-Ann Oberman and Mock The Week creator Dan Patterson joined volunteers from across the age spectrum to sing for the elderly at a Hampstead care home.

    Tulip Siddiq MP brought along her baby Azalea Joy as she helped to make cards for refugees at a session at JW3 in Finchley Road.

    Imam Ibrahim Mogra participated in a challah bake held by the Leicester Progressive community.

    All were part of the biggest UK Mitzvah Day programme, which attracted some 25,000 volunteers from eight faiths. The 415 projects resulted in more than 1,200 activities supporting some of the most vulnerable in society.

    Rabbi Mirvis said he was always inspired by “the energy, compassion and kindness with which thousands of people give of their time for countless worthy activities”.

    The inter-generational theme brought families together to engage in good deeds.

    For example, senior Liberal Judaism rabbi Danny Rich went to Jewish Care’s Vi and John Rubens home in Redbridge with wife Laura Lassman, their children and grandchild to entertain residents.

    “Helping one’s neighbours was something I learned from my aunts, who took me volunteering as a child,” he explained. “I was delighted to be accompanied by my children and a grandchild in the hope that they in turn will continue to make the world a better place.”

    Community relations were fostered by more than 100 interfaith projects.

    Mitzvah Day founder Laura Marks noted: “In a divided world, where we are often fearful of our neighbours, events such as Mitzvah Day are more vital than ever in bringing people together and forming real and lasting friendships.”

    She also spoke of the feelgood factor, highlighting research by Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, showing that almost three-quarters of participants met people from different faith or age groups they otherwise would not have encountered.

    Eighty-six per cent of respondents felt Mitzvah Day was successful in bringing Jews and non-Jews together and 92 per cent said the day had made a positive impact on a charity or community.

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