April 10, 2024

My Family’s Day of Mitzvot and Unity

Seth Huttel GMW Community Member

Personal reflections and thoughts from CommUNITY Mitzvah Day Plus

My kids, Moshe (6), Leora (3) and Shoshi (1) and I (Seth Huttel) had an incredibly inspiring and meaningful CommUNITY Mitzvah Day Plus last Sunday. (My wife Rivki would have been there but was working as a pediatrician, taking care of children).

We started off our day at our home in Springfield and headed to the Aidekman Jewish Community Campus in Whippany to pack Passover food boxes for those in need. My kids absolutely loved the packing. My son, Moshe, was so proud of the fact that he packed 10 boxes all by himself (and we were proud too)! Even Shoshi, our 1 year old, was putting all the items in the boxes herself (with a little help).

We then went for Pizza at Jerusalem Restaurant in Elizabeth and ended our meal by giving tzedakah, reiterating the days’ theme of helping those in need.

We met up with others at Temple Beth O’r Beth Torah in Clark and we all went together to visit individuals with special needs in Linden. It meant so much to the individuals. They were so happy to see and interact with my kids, and my kids enjoyed interacting with them. I felt exposing my kids to these individuals was very important. It taught them that we must be kind and respectful to everyone, even if they act, or look, a little different than us.

We played a little at a playground nearby and then made our way over to the JCC of Central NJ in Scotch Plains where we packed bags of school supplies for Israeli families in need. After the packing we danced to the upbeat music of Joanie Leeds, had ice cream, and just had lots of fun!

My kids then went home to play with their grandparents while I went to Newark to deliver the boxes we had all packed in the morning. Finally, we concluded the CommUNITY Mitzvah Day Plus at our home by packing bags of snacks for patients with cancer. As a final personal touch, we decorated the bags with a sticker that reads “I hope this makes you smile.”

It was a community mitzvah DAY… so I thought, why limit the mitzvot to just a few hours, to just one activity?! I felt the whole day should be filled with mitzvah activities!


Chesed (acts of kindness) and mitzvot (G-d’s commandments) are extremely important and central to Jewish belief, but I’d like to talk a bit about the concept of achdus (unity) amongst Jews. This is also an inherent and essential part of what it means to be a Jew. It’s at the core of who we are and what defines us as Am Yisrael (Nation of Israel).

Perhaps the most significant and well-known verse in the Torah is the Shema Yisroel prayer. The verse ends with “G-d is one.” We are commanded to emulate G-d’s attributes. G-d is one and unified so we (The Jewish people) must be one and unified with one another. Just like the Shema Yisroel verse is fundamental to our faith, so too is the concept of uniting with other Jews.

We are entering into the month of Nissan, the month of redemption. Our Jewish brothers and sisters are in an incredibly difficult, precarious situation. They need their family (the Jewish people) right now more than ever. Our unity and ability to get along with one another is essential for eliciting divine protection.

“When the people of Israel make themselves one unit, then even if Idolatry exists among them, the attribute of Justice won’t touch them” (Midrash Tanchuma Shoftim 18)

Moreover, our sages explain that the redemption itself will not occur until the Jewish people are unified.

“The people of Israel will not be redeemed until they become one entity” (Midrash Tanchuma Nitzavim 1).

I want to give all my brothers and sisters (i.e. all the Jewish people) a blessing that we work hard to find ways to bridge all the gaps between us. That we break down and remove all the barriers that separate us. I give us a blessing that we team up together and unite as one people to walk in the ways of G-d and to stand up for justice. May G-d see our unity and redeem us, speedily in our days.