On the morning of Sunday, April 29, Ohef Sholom Temple’s sixth annual Mitzvah Day demonstrated tikkun olam with an emphasis on the environment, as well as helping those less fortunate. Its “Ohef Goes Green” theme helped kick off the efforts of the newest temple committee, OST Green Initiative, which will keep members apprised of their charge as stewards of natural resources.
In the space of just a few hours, the Redgate Ave. entrance to Ohef Sholom was transformed with a bed of native plants; 30 casseroles were prepared for the homework and meals program of For Kids; 100 lunch bags were packed for the needy who rely on GAM (Ghent Area Ministries) for emergency supplies; Religious School students built oyster cages for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, made birdhouses and bird feeders, explored their creativity with ecocrafts, picked up 16 bags of trash in the neighborhood, and learned about the delicate eco-systems in this region. Congregants gave blood, learned about recycling, helped with projects and bought locally grown plants and produce from an organic farmer.
As newly installed chair of the OST Caring Committee, Inger Friedman unwittingly took on the task of organizing the annual social action extravaganza. When no one stepped forward to chair the event, she embraced the challenge. Friedman and her co-chair, Barbara Johnson, along with Mitzvah Day veteran Sharon Ross, then put in countless hours in preparation, planning and implementation. They inspired a record number of volunteers, boosted by the enthusiastic and generous participation of many from Temple Sinai.
Educational displays and videos from numerous community organizations were present, including TFC recycling, Bev Sell representing the Five Points Community Farm Market, the Virginia Aquarium’s stranding team, Virginia Master Naturalists, Tidewater Animal Rescue and Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Congregants learned numerous ways they could “recycle, reuse and reduce.” They donated eyeglasses for the Lions Club, canned goods for the Foodbank, and pet supplies for the SPCA; and they brought in plastic bags and small electronics for recycling.
The generosity of Ohef Sholom’s Men’s Club and Sisterhood, and donations from individuals, made many of the projects possible.
Mitzvah Day brought OST members of all ages together in a common cause and demonstrated that working together as a community can make a difference.
by Linda Peck