Organisations throughout the country are gearing up towards a record-breaking Mitzvah Day programme at the weekend with some 450 domestic projects planned.
This year’s inter-generational theme has increased the scope for those running activities and Mitzvah Day founder and chair Laura Marks is delighted that there will be more than 100 specifically interfaith projects where “Jews and members of other faith groups volunteer side by side”.
In addition, major companies are involving employees in Mitzvah Day events and there will be activities at schools. “For non-Jewish schools, we try to encourage Jewish kids to run an event for the whole school. It’s a different interfaith model.”
Another 250 projects are being organised globally, from Barcelona to the Philippines, and worldwide participation is expected to exceed 40,000.
Theresa May has led support for the day of good deeds from across the political spectrum, describing it as “a special time when thousands of people of different faiths and no faith come together to do something positive for their local community”.
Jeremy Corbyn, a long-time Mitzvah Day supporter, said “bringing communities together in this way shows how the Jewish values of solidarity, compassion and social justice help shape a better, stronger society”.
Vince Cable said “days like this also illustrate that, irrespective of our background, faith or belief, we each have a responsibility to one another.
“This year’s theme is an important principle that reminds us all that it is our duty to teach future generations to be compassionate and selfless. My thanks to the thousands of volunteers who are donating their time and energy to reach out to the vulnerable and disadvantaged.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also pledged her support, declaring: “Scotland is at its strongest when we are a nation that celebrates diversity.”
Ms Marks recalled that Mitzvah Day was started with the belief “that people are good and want to do good”.
At a time of “so much doom and gloom”, it was heartening that increasing numbers were willing to engage in volunteering initiatives.