The founder of Mitzvah Day last night expressed her hopes that this year’s event will include a record number of interfaith projects, writes Justin Cohen.
The Jewish-led day of social action, now in its eighth year, sees tens of thousands of people across the UK and beyond donating their time to help good causes inside and outside Anglo-Jewry.
Speaking after the 2013 launch event in central London, founder Laura Marks said: “At Mitzvah Day we take our responsibility of being ‘a light unto the nations’ seriously, providing everyone with an opportunity to play their part in bringing light and healing what is sometimes an extremely fractured world.”
She added: “We see the role of Mitzvah Day as building relationships and a key one is between our community and those of our non-Jewish neighbours.
“Building on the success of last year we hope to have well over 50 Mitzvah Days this year where, based on shared values and the religious imperative to do good works, we can work side-by-side with groups from other faiths to build stronger local communities for the future,” she said.
The reception was also addressed by Mitzvah Day’s interfaith chair Daniella Pears and Chief Rabbi-elect Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (pictured, left), who described Mitzvah Day as a “remarkable phenomenon” and “a truly religious concept”.
He added: “What has particularly pleased me is that though the years Mitzvah Day has broadened out from being a day on which Jewish people perform kinds deeds for other people into a day in which Jewish people engage in kind deeds for everybody. More recently it has provided an opportunity for members of different faiths to come together to bond and engage in social actions projects.”
Guests at the reception also heard about Mitzvah Day Together, a new initiative launching next week to encourage those with disabilities to play a full part in the event.
Tuesday’s reception was hosted by luxury china and silverware company Thomas Goode, whose chairman Rumi Verjee told the Jewish News: “As a Muslim it was a privilege to host a Jewish established charity and one that preaches interfaith understanding”.
Mitzvah Day needs to raise at least £130,000 to cover increased operating costs and expand its interfaith work over the coming year.