From packaging soup kits to making hospital bears, “Mitzvah in Motion” had the congregation at Ohef Sholom Temple abuzz with outreach activities throughout the morning of Sunday, April 21. Two hundred and fifteen Religious School students, from pre-K through Confirmation, along with adult members and friends joined together to raise awareness and funds for the needs in the greater community.
At the beginning of the year, each Religious School class selects a charity to receive the students’ weekly tzedakah. Mitzvah Day gave them an opportunity to tell others about their chosen recipient and to raise more money for the cause. The beneficiaries include OST’s Religious School Relief Fund; JFS Book Fund, Food Closet and Summer Camps; Make-A-Wish Foundation; Jewish Braille Institute; Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation; Hope for Life Animal Shelter; Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, and Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters.To kick off Ohef’s 7th annual Mitzvah Day, Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg held a brief service in the chapel. Class representatives, each adorned with a color-coded bandanna to identify their “team,” described their cause and its importance. Then, the colorful crowd took off on a 1-mile sponsored walk around the Hague before returning to Ohef to participate in a slew of activities.
The Men’s Club held its annual blood drive for the Red Cross in Simon Hall, the library was the site of the Foodbank Backpack program—a year-round program to supply food to hungry schoolchildren in Norfolk; the kitchen was put to use for making ForKids casseroles and doggie treats; the chapel for Braille education, and Kaufman Hall held a dozen stations with opportunities for hands-on participation.
The CHKD Bear Project, which supplies hand-made bears to hospitalized children, set up an impromptu sweat shop with an assembly line with some cutting patterns, others stuffing, and two valiant sewing machine operators putting together almost 100 bears.
Another assembly line had fifth-graders making 50 soup kits for residents of Virginia Supportive Housing’s Gosnold Apartments, an independent living project that Ohef congregants support year round with food and household supplies. Sharon Ross again provided the accompanying recipe. Another year-round project, “Hot Meals and Homework” ForKids supported by the Sisterhood, received 19 casseroles from the morning’s endeavors led by Jeanne Miller, Sharon Nusbaum and Sandi Levi. Meanwhile, 16 second-graders stepped up to fill bags with paper goods and toiletries for the JFS Food Closet.
The Jewish Braille Institute drew strong interest from its fourth-grade benefactors as Debbie Prost made Braille name cards for each of them and congregant Rabbi Connie Golden spoke with them about its work.
Children of all ages enjoyed adding sprinkles to cookies, shaping doggie treat dough; and making posters and decorating race boxes for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Visitors to the Hope for Life Animal Shelter booth met its canine friend (later adopted) and learned about its care for animals. The Make A Wish and Juvenile Diabetes groups also had educational displays about their work.
The participation of so many—OST staff and clergy, Religious School teachers, parents, room parents, students, families, congregants and friends—made for another outstanding day of caring and outreach in the spirit of tikkun olam.