Thousands help make Mitzvah Day a record-breaker


A record-breaking Mitzvah Day saw thousands of volunteers donating their time to social action projects.

Over 37,000 volunteers in 20 countries donated 150,000 hours to food collections, conservation tasks and outreach projects over the weekend.

In the UK, more than 500 synagogues, mosques, churches and other faith groups took part in the biggest cross-communal effort yet for Mitzvah Day.

Prime Minster David Cameron commended the volunteers at the Norwood dinner on Monday: "On Mitzvah Day, more than 35,000 people gave their time to causes in almost every major town and city across the country. Yes, there is a Big Society in Britain."

Mitzvah Day founder and chair, Laura Marks, said: "I love that it is part of the establishment and part of the calendar now. It's great the whole community embraces the idea that a minimum of one day a year should be devoted to others. I call it, 'Jews at our best'."

Participants ran 1,200 schemes around the world. Financial consultancy firm Ernst and Young and bank Santander joined the 65 businesses taking part in the "Give Away Your Lunch" scheme, in which companies donated food to shelters and food banks.

"Given the difficult summer on the interfaith front, there was concern over whether people would still volunteer, so it was gratifying to see that they have. Maybe they were feeling that now it is even more important than normal to build bridges," said Ms Marks.

Mitzvah Day was started in 2005, based on the idea that people should contribute their time, rather than money, to charity.

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