March 20, 2024

A Day Dedicated to Doing Mitzvot

Elana Wilf Tanzman Chair, Center for Volunteerism

As the chair of Federation’s Center for Volunteerism, I’m so excited to invite you to be a part of CommUNITY Mitzvah Day Plus on Sunday, April 7. This is the one day of the year when the entire community can find a way to volunteer and make a difference in a meaningful way – and there is literally something for everyone! And this year, it’s a poignant opportunity to do something with and for your community on the six-month anniversary of the Hamas terror attacks on Israel.

For those who have attended in years past, you know how rewarding it is to join your family, friends, and neighbors as we provide for the needy, document history, help the planet, and so much more. You leave with a proud badge of honor – an “I Did a Mitzvah Today!” sticker, and the warm feeling of knowing you made a difference, either locally or in Israel.

The Plus is that this year, in honor of Federation’s Centennial celebration and in light of the trying times we’re facing in the aftermath of October 7, we’re also offering a learning component for both teens and adults, because learning is a mitzvah too!

One of the greatest struggles we face these days is the frightening rise in antisemitism, and our learning sessions are designed to help us navigate this complicated time.

Our teens will choose from sessions where they can learn the difference between anti-Israel and antisemitic statements, prepare to participate in advocacy on college campuses, explore their unique Jewish identity, and hear firsthand insights from those who recently visited Israel. Plus, they’ll do a hands-on service project sorting donated sneakers to send to teens from our partner community of Ofakim who were affected by the attacks of October 7.

For the adults, we’re bringing in two incredible speakers to help us understand and respond to the rising antisemitism we experience all around us. Jonathan Kessler, Founder/CEO of Heart of a Nation which “empowers the next generation of American, Israeli, and Palestinian change-makers to embrace better, together” will reflect on how many of us are grappling with our own feelings since October 7 and will guide us in how we can engage in empathetic, productive conversations with family, coworkers, friends, and neighbors. Kara A. Wilson, Director of Stakeholder Engagement at Project Shema which “trains and supports the Jewish community and allies to understand and address contemporary antisemitism” will help us better understand progressive philosophy and will offer tools more effectively engage and depolarize conversations. You can register for one or both sessions.

There’s a special program for families with young children at the JCC Central in Scotch Plains. We’ll pack art kits to send to children in Israel who are still struggling with the aftereffects on October 7, donate toiletries to local families in need, and then Party with a Purpose with Grammy award-winning musician Joanie Leeds.

There are also ways you can make an impact from home! You can donate new sneakers to teens in our partner community of Ofakim which was devastated during the Hamas attacks, or you can put together Comfort for Cancer Patient packages that will be distributed through our friends at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center. You’ll be able to drop off both these donations at a location near you.

In my opinion, CommUNITY Mitzvah Day is an annual highlight in our Greater MetroWest Jewish community! My family and I look forward to it each year as a day when we focus on helping others and meeting new friends in our community in the process. This year we’ll do a mitzvah and take advantage of the learning opportunities.

I hope you’ll join together with our community as we find meaning and purpose on Mitzvah Day!

Click here to learn more and register.