Mitzvah day is a day of social action. It is not about fundraising or donating money; it is simply about taking a couple of hours of our time to help others, both within our own community and in the wider community.
Mitzvah Day 2018 was on Sunday 18th November.
Ten-sational! Hundreds turn out to help for volunteering day – a decade after it all began
Hundreds of Bushey Synagogue members gave up their time on Sunday to volunteer for local projects across Hertfordshire, as part of the 10th annual Mitzvah Day programme.
To mark the special anniversary of the social action day, several new activities ran for the first time including a small army of volunteers who rolled up their sleeves to weed, dig and prune in the gardens of Watford General Hospital. Some Bushey members also returned to the hospital for the second year running to provide a special tea to families of those who had been treated there. The ‘Memorial Tea’ is part of a service held each year at the hospital for relatives of patients that have passed away, with volunteers not just helping with the serving, but also giving moral support to those attending.
Mitzvah Day organiser Esther Radnor said, “It was incredible to see so many people helping. Watford General Hospital is such an important part of our community and it was fantastic to see people giving up their time to help those who have been through such a lot.”
Anthony Curran, the West Herts Hospital Chaplain, gave a heartfelt thank you and said the volunteers “did an absolutely fantastic job of the garden at the front of the hospital.”
Among the other new schemes this year was a knitting circle making blankets for refugees in conjunction with the charity Knit for Peace. And in today’s modern world, there was also a Technology Helpdesk set up, where senior members of the local community came to get advice and try new things like setting up a Facebook profile or tips on staying safe online.
This year’s Mitzvah Day also saw the return of some of the most successful schemes of the last 10 years. The annual Collectathon was held and this year dozens of people helped to collect clothes and stationery for vulnerable refugees, working with the charity Goods for Good. The volunteers even sorted and transported the items so they could be sent straight out to refugee camps in Kurdistan and get to those who need them in time for the coldest winter months.
Bushey Synagogue Rebbetzen Jacqueline Feldman said the last decade of volunteering had been quite an achievement. “Ten years after Mitzvah Day began it’s incredible to see the community spirit stronger than ever – more and more people giving up their time for others, and thinking of so many different ways to help. I am extremely proud of our Bushey Mitzvah Day Team for going the extra mile and making a tangible difference to people’s lives.”
There were also plenty of creative skills on display for this 10th Mitzvah Day. Talented young members of the Bushey community performed a concert for the Jewish Blind and Disabled, while at the Mitzvah Day Fair, old t-shirts were turned into tote bags for the Israeli charity Leket, who collect food to distribute to the poor, and hundreds of Chanukah cards were decorated, to be sent out to members of the Israeli Defence Force.
Members of the community also donated generously to good causes on the day. Spare stationery was donated and gift wrapped to be sent to children living in refugee camps in Kurdistan while food was donated to collection points on Bushey High Street for GIFT and toys collected for Camp Simcha who help children with serious illnesses.
You can click on the photos below to see a larger version.
For a flavour of what goes on, look at write up, videos and photos of previous Mitzvah Day activities.