Voice of the Jewish News: A good day in deed

Voice of the Jewish News: A good day in deed

This week's editorial focuses on Mitzvah Day 2017, which saw bridge-building in Golders Green with the local Islamic community

Members of the local Muslim community in Golders Green synagogue
Members of the local Muslim community in Golders Green synagogue

Those would-be Muslim troublemakers calling Golders Green Hippodrome their new home showed their true colours this week – by giving blood for Mitzvah Day. It turns out that the Jew-haters so many in our community campaigned against actually wanted to do a mitzvah… and came to a shul to do it.

They never meant it to be a middle-fingered salute to the petitioners and letter writers who claim traffic and pollution are the real reasons they object to a new Islamic centre. They didn’t mean it to be the perfect riposte to toxic comments levelled at them ahead of their arrival. They just wanted to give blood.

That they did, that they walked into a shul after those racist, nasty online comments from those purporting to speak for Jews, will have been noticed up and down our community. That Mitzvah Day can help break down faith-based barriers and cultural aversions in such a way is one of its many qualities. Another, which became much more apparent this year, is Mitzvah Day’s growing international dimension.

This week’s front page

It seems like only yesterday when two part-timers set up in West Hampstead, borrowing broadband from Jewish social action incubator J-Hub, to come up with the idea of having ‘a day’ when we all did good deeds. Today, alongside Limmud, it is fast becoming British Jewry’s most important cultural export of this generation.

With 713 events Mitzvah Day held around the world, a record 30 countries took part, ranging from Australia, France and Israel to the Philippines, Namibia and Romania, whether it’s cleaning a cemetery or cooking for the homeless. It is spreading so easily because it incorporates a core Jewish value and gives people of all faiths the chance to meet those they wouldn’t otherwise meet. One of Britain’s top Muslim clerics said as much this week.

That the secret of its success is so simple makes it all the more impressive. And just as Limmud develops and enriches those who attend, so Mitzvah Day does with those who get involved. Long live the good deed.

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