Congregation Beth Israel (CBI) in Scotch Plains will hold its first Mitzvah Day on Sunday, May 4, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sponsored by the synagogue’s Social Action Committee, Mitzvah Day will attract participants of all ages to perform outreach projects within the local community.
“The Hebrew word mitzvah literally means ‘commandment,’ but many people also translate it to mean ‘good deed,’” said Laurie Woog, a Mitzvah Day organizer at Congregation Beth Israel. “We are obligated to perform acts of kindness and generosity to help build a just and caring community. A lot of other religious organizations sponsor days of good deeds to spark volunteerism and we are hoping to do the same.”
Approximately 25 activities will take place both at the synagogue and local towns on Mitzvah Day. These service projects are designed to help care for the environment, feed the hungry, provide items to those who are in need, strengthen relationships with friends and neighbors, and bolster knowledge of Judaism and its commandments.
Activities slated to take place at CBI include: a car wash to benefit the food pantry at Jewish Family Service (JFS) in Elizabeth; creating artwork to be donated to a nursing home; baking Challah for Shabbat observance; and cleaning the synagogue grounds.
Outside service projects include: helping Habitat for Humanity repair a home for a family in need; assisting with the Plainfield Dairy Queen’s used bicycle collection for children; an intergenerational talent show to entertain nursing home residents at Norwood Terrace in Plainfield; collecting debris and recyclables from Brookside Park in Scotch Plains; planting on the grounds of the Scotch Plains Library in anticipation of the library’s upcoming Civil War Exhibit; helping at the soup kitchen at St. Mary’s Rectory in Plainfield; working at Furniture Assist, a Kenilworth warehouse that donates furniture for people in need; running in a 5K race to raise funds for charity; painting a room at the Family Promise day center in Elizabeth; and working in the garden or food pantry at Jewish Family Service (JFS).
Several Mitzvah Day projects are designed specifically for young children and their families, including: sending cards to Israeli soldiers and to Jewish U.S. Service members; packing toiletries to be distributed to the homeless through the service organization Bridges Outreach; and playing carnival games that raise money for the JFS food pantry. Children can also participate in many of the outside activities.
“Mitzvah Day provides great learning opportunities for our students,” said Elly Bauman, Education Director of Congregation Beth Israel. “For instance, the children will be taught a lesson about Israel when they design cards for Israeli soldiers. They will also learn that they are never too young to help others.”
In advance of Mitzvah Day, the Social Action Committee of Congregation Beth Israel is organizing several collections: new toiletries to be donated to the homeless through Bridges Outreach; kosher food for the JFS food pantry; and children’s bicycles in fair to good condition. For information about donating needed items, contact Elly Bauman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congregation Beth Israel is a traditional yet egalitarian Conservative synagogue, serving Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Westfield and surrounding towns. It is located at 18 Shalom Way, Scotch Plains (at the corner of Martine Avenue). For more information, call (908) 889-1830 or email email@example.com.