Mitzvah Day: A positive message to wider world


In his first year as Mitzvah Day executive director, Dan Rickman has become accustomed to hearing people say: "Isn't it just one day a year?"

It is so much more, he says. "Relationships don't just happen overnight."

Mr Rickman is no newcomer to communal life, having spent 10 years in the Jewish charity sector, previously serving Aish, Jeneration, Langdon and Magen David Adom.

"Most Jewish charities face inwards," he explains. "They're about Jews and helping Jews, which is great.

"We're external - Jews going out and representing what it means to be Jewish in the wider community.

"It's just so rare for non-Jews to hear about these positive messages about Judaism and the Jewish community."

Another difference is that Mitzvah Day is about giving time, not money.

A new website has helped spread the word and attract even greater involvement this year.

As an example, Mr Rickman cites Borehamwood Synagogue's blood drive. "They have taken part in Mitzvah Day for years but would typically only attract people that go to the synagogue.

"This year, for the first time, we had an 'available project section' on our website. So the synagogue was able to post on it, allowing individuals who are not on the Borehamwood mailing list to access this project and others like it."

Mitzvah Day staff build relationships with communities by "collections or shared events throughout the year," he adds. "It's not just about Jews teaching about our culture. It's also about Jews learning about other people's cultures."

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