Participants at the Tidewater Jewish community’s 3rd Annual Mitzvah Day on Sunday, Oct. 30 demonstrated the benefits of a can-do attitude, working together to strengthen Jewish identity and improve life for those less fortunate.
From teenagers who built sculptures (literally) out of cans, to families who donated heaps of new stuffed animals for sick children, the day was committed to fulfilling Judaism’s commandments (mitzvot) and sharing positivity with others.
All members of the community were invited to the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus to take part in one, or all three, Mitzvah Day projects. Designed for multi-generational attendees, the projects were centered around the mitzvahs of comforting the sick (bikkur cholim), giving charity to others (tzedakah), and observing the Sabbath (Shabbat).
A dedicated group of close to 200 people—of all ages—attended.
Some who came competed on teen teams for a cash prize in a Mitzvah Day can sculpture contest—the cash prize was given to charity, and more than 2,500 cans were subsequently donated to the Jewish Family Service of Tidewater’s Foods Closets. Designs included a wheelchair icon with a peace sign wheel, a birthday cake, and a hamsa.
Other Mitzvah Day volunteers decorated and constructed family friendly objects for a Shabbat box to take home— more than 50 boxes were completed.
Participants created paper flowers and get well cards for patients at the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters. More than 250 new toys were also donated. Cards and flowers will brighten the lives of patients undergoing rehabilitation at Beth Sholom Village.
“It was really special and meaningful to be able to participate in Mitzvah Day,” says Raizy Cook, who attended with her husband and two small children.
“To see a whole community come out to learn about the multifaceted Shabbat, volunteer to help others less fortunate, and cheer up children with warm letters and toys, all while learning about each mitzvah made me feel connected and proud to be part of our community,” Cook says. “The event was fun and creative and really was a great learning experience for the whole family.”
Organizers of this year’s Mitzvah Day were graduates of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s 2016 ATID leadership development program, designed and facilitated by Anna Goldenberg of TrueImpact Coaching. Representatives of area synagogues and agencies, ATID members volunteered as part of their goal to help others in the community work better, together, as they’ve learned to do.
Co-chairs of the overall event were Chava Goldberg and Jenefer Snyder. Chairs of the three projects were Rabbi Baruch Danziger, Barbara Fernandez, Debbie Hibberd, Andie Pollock, Todd Waldman, and Debbie Wilson. Rabbis from the Norfolk Kollel also volunteered, providing explanations and insights into the mitzvah of Shabbat and other traditional Jewish commandments.
Judges for the teen can sculpture competition were Shira Itzhak, Andrew Nusbaum and Scott Levin. Teen volunteers who planned, designed and built the sculptures were from B’nai Israel Congregation, BBYO chapters Debra BBG, Kruger BBG, Old Dominion AZA, and Dr. Israel Brown AZA, the winning group whose members donated their $180 prize to children with disabilities.
To see more photos from the Tidewater Jewish Community’s 3rd Annual Mitzvah Day, visit www.facebook.com/UJFTidewater/photos and click on the Mitzvah Day 2016 album.
Laine M. Rutherford