More than 300 faith communities and 40 schools take part in Mitzvah Day
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

More than 300 faith communities and 40 schools take part in Mitzvah Day

From food collections and virtual singalongs to cake-baking and doorstep deliveries, thousands took part in the annual day of Jewish-led social action - with a difference

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

  • Stanmore and Canons Park made gratitude packs which the children decorated
    Stanmore and Canons Park made gratitude packs which the children decorated
  • Barnet Mayor Caroline Stock takes part in Bringing Smiles To Your Door campaign with Age UK delivery
    Barnet Mayor Caroline Stock takes part in Bringing Smiles To Your Door campaign with Age UK delivery
  • Wohl Ilford Jewish Primary School students collected for Camp Simcha and Redbridge Food Bank
    Wohl Ilford Jewish Primary School students collected for Camp Simcha and Redbridge Food Bank
  • Wohl Ilford Jewish Primary School students collected for Camp Simcha and Redbridge Food Bank
    Wohl Ilford Jewish Primary School students collected for Camp Simcha and Redbridge Food Bank
  • East London & Essex Liberal cakes received by Keith and Ruth who run Mill Grove
    East London & Essex Liberal cakes received by Keith and Ruth who run Mill Grove
  • Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue collected for multiple charities
    Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue collected for multiple charities
  • Mill Hill United Synagogue collected items for doorstop drops to isolated people 1
    Mill Hill United Synagogue collected items for doorstop drops to isolated people 1
  • Pinner United Synagogue Goods for Good car park collection
    Pinner United Synagogue Goods for Good car park collection
  • Kingston Liberal Synagogue created videos for Jewish Care residents
    Kingston Liberal Synagogue created videos for Jewish Care residents
  • Younger members of Stanmore, Liora and Aviva Turgel planting bulbs in their wellies
    Younger members of Stanmore, Liora and Aviva Turgel planting bulbs in their wellies
  • Joely Bear blood drive at Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue
    Joely Bear blood drive at Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue
  • East London & Essex Liberal made cakes for Mill Grove children's home
    East London & Essex Liberal made cakes for Mill Grove children's home
  • Nisa-Nashim Edgware interfaith doorstep deliverY
    Nisa-Nashim Edgware interfaith doorstep deliverY
  • Yeshurun Federation Synagogue food bank collection for GIFT
    Yeshurun Federation Synagogue food bank collection for GIFT
  • Alison Rosen, Hajra Rahim and the women of Nisa-Nashim Bushey joined the Bushey MD project to make cakes for keyworkers
    Alison Rosen, Hajra Rahim and the women of Nisa-Nashim Bushey joined the Bushey MD project to make cakes for keyworkers

Keir Starmer was one of thousands who took part in Mitzvah Day with a difference this year, as twin evils of loneliness and food poverty were highlighted.

The Labour leader joined the day of Jewish-led social action which involved more than 300 faith communities and organisations across the country.

Shuls, churches, mosques and community centres took part alongside 40 schools and thousands of families and individual volunteers, doing good deeds from home.

In wake of the pandemic, which put a stop to many traditional projects, Sunday 15 November saw pop up collection points, acts of kindness, virtual tea and a host of activities taking place virtually and physically.

Starmer visited South Hampstead Synagogue in his north London constituency, where he helped with a food and toiletry collection which will be distributed to three different local charities dedicated to fighting the crisis of food poverty.

Wohl Ilford Jewish Primary School students collected for Camp Simcha and Redbridge Food Bank

Meanwhile, hundreds turned out for Bushey United Synagogue’s initiatives, which included its young members braving blustery conditions to tidy up the garden at The Peace Hospice in Watford, a record 18 black sacks of food being filled on Bushey high street for the charity Gift, and a cake collection for key workers organised by Rebbetzen Shira Kett.

Mill Hill United Synagogue distributed items in doorstop drops to isolated people in the community, while Pinner United held a collection for the charity ‘Goods for Good’. 

Rebbetzen Shira Kett with her kids at Bushey United’s cake for key workers collection

Stanmore shul held four different ‘collectathons’ supporting causes, including clothes for the homeless, food for needy families, toys for sick children and those suffering with breast cancer.

It  also held a ‘Big Community Tea Party’, with musical entertainment and an appearance from local MP Bob Blackman.

Younger members of Stanmore, Liora and Aviva Turgel planting bulbs in their wellies

With the second lockdown preventing many activities from physically taking place, young families took part in a Zoom sing-a-long for Jewish Care residents at a number of its homes, with musician John Rose. 

Adam Overlander-Kaye, Director, Fundraising & Community Engagement at Jewish Care, said: “We were grateful to John and the youngsters for providing such wonderful entertainment for Mitzvah Day. Our residents really enjoyed the opportunity to sing and be entertained.”

Other initiatives included a virtual Kabalat Shabbat for Jewish Care residents with Keren’s Nursery pupils, a BBYO UK-recorded video performances for residents, and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg planting trees for the charity’s Winter Wellbeing project in care homes, with his dog Mitzvah. 

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg planting for Jewish Care’s Winter Wellbeing project in care homes with his dog Mitzvah!

Elsewhere, Barnet Mayor Caroline Stock and councillor Sara Conway took part in a ‘Bringing Smiles To Your Door’ campaign with Age UK, while members of youth group FZY made food deliveries to Holocaust survivors.

East London & Essex Liberal shul baked cakes for run Mill Grove children’s home, and Wohl Ilford Jewish Primary School pupils collected for Camp Simcha and Redbridge Food Bank. 

Food drop-offs were also made by Jewish-Muslim women’s group Nisa-Nashim, while a blood donation drive was held by the Joely Bear appeal at Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue.

Mitzvah Day’s chief executive Georgina Bye hailed the day as “a feat of flexibility and a testament to the tenacity and creativity. 

East London & Essex Liberal made cakes for Mill Grove children’s home

“Despite the restrictions, thousands of people came together, in spirit, to run collections for foodbanks, write handmade cards for those who are lonely, record poems and songs for care home residents, make socially distanced doorstep visits to their neighbours, bake cakes for key workers, make masks for hospices, donate blood and so much more.

The initiative receives support from across faiths, denominations and the political spectrum, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying in a video message ahead of the event: “Mitzvah Day has become a great British tradition.”

Nisa-Nashim Edgware interfaith doorstep deliverY

Throwing his weight behind it, he said “volunteers rise to the challenge of COVID – not just maintaining this fantastic Jewish-led day of good deeds, but creating an entire month of mitzvahs!”

Speaking at South Hampstead shul, Starmer  said: “I wish these food donations were not needed, but it fills me with hope to see how generous and resilient our community has been in rising to the challenges of the last few months.”

He heralded the day of social action as “a wonderful opportunity to see people of different faiths working together to enrich their local communities.” 

Keir Starmer at South Hampstead Synagogue sorting through items which will be donated to charity for Mitzvah Day (Credit: Yakir Zur)

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis congratulated Mitzvah Day, saying it is “encouraging us all to do more for those who are seriously affected by the pandemic – both on Mitzvah Day itself and indeed throughout the whole year.”

Joely Bear blood drive at Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue

The initiative, which has been running for more than a decade, was this year’s focussed on the two major crises in society – food poverty and loneliness. In wake of the pandemic, the day of Jewish-led social action was extended to an entire ‘month of Mitzvahs’ throughout November.

Its founder and chair Laura Marks said: “This is no ordinary year.  With so many people suffering from the effects of the pandemic, thousands of volunteers are giving time, creativity, donations and above all, love and kindness to support local causes.

“I feel lucky and blessed to see so many people supporting others in this time of crisis.”

The success was replicated in 30 other countries, from Brazil and South Africa to Canada and Bermuda – as well as all across Europe.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments