‘United we make a real difference’: interfaith communities celebrate Mitzvah Day Awards

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‘United we make a real difference’: interfaith communities celebrate Mitzvah Day Awards

Maccabi Ukraine wins the Outstanding International Mitzvah Day Award at annual ceremony and South Hampstead and Maidenhead synagogues receive Outstanding British Mitzvah Day honour

All of the Mitzvah Day Award nominees and winners - with the charity's staff and trustees. Pic: Yakir Zur
All of the Mitzvah Day Award nominees and winners - with the charity's staff and trustees. Pic: Yakir Zur

Communities, charities and volunteers from all around the UK and abroad were honoured at the 2024 annual Mitzvah Day Awards which saw the Jewish community joined by Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Sikh friends and neighbours.

Opening the event, Mitzvah Day founder and chair Laura Marks CBE said: “What makes these awards even more special is being joined by people from other faiths and communities. Mitzvah Day is all about being together and showing that, when we are united, we can make a real difference.”

The Outstanding British Mitzvah Day Award was won by South Hampstead Synagogue and Maidenhead Synagogue, who both put on a variety of projects,  including cooking, collections and conservation, to help those most in need and improve the local environment.

Social entrepreneur and gender equality campaigner Julie Siddiqi MBE, one of the members of the Muslim community who regularly attends the Mitzvah Day activities in Maidenhead, said: “Interfaith matters and it is at moments like this when it matters more than ever. I’m not really into talking, what makes the difference is to do things together, challenge misconceptions together and change the world together!”

The Mitzvah Day Individual Award was won by Rachel Ucko of Kisharon Langdon and Chef Jas Singh of Sufra NW London Community Kitchen.

Presenting their prizes, Mitzvah Day chief executive officer Stuart Diamond said: “These are two very worthy winners whose volunteering has left a lasting impression.”

Mitzvah-Day-chair-Laura-Marks-CBE-with-Muslim-campaigner-Julie-Siddiqi-MBE Pic: Yakir Zur

In a moving moment, Maccabi Ukraine won the Outstanding International Mitzvah Day Award – along with the Union of Jewish Women Johannesburg – proving that social action can shine through even in the toughest of situations.

The Outstanding Interfaith Partnership Award was won by Wightman Road Mosque and Muswell Hill Synagogue – for their work together on Mitzvah Day and throughout the year – and Birmingham Progressive Synagogue, whose programme for asylum seekers unites the large number if diverse faith groups in the city.

The panel discussion on social action within the interfaith realm. Pic: Yakir Zur

Other winners included Project ImpACT and Holy Trinity & St Silas Primary School for Outstanding Youth Achievement, JW3 Foodbank and GIFT – The Giving Kitchen in the Year Round category and Woodside Park Synagogue for the Repair The World Award, which was based on Mitzvah Day’s theme.

Mitzvah Day’s beneficiary charities were honoured for the incredible work they do, with prizes given to Sebby’s Corner, The Separated Child Foundation, PJ Library, The Woodland Trust, Kisharon Langdon, Sufra NW London Community Kitchen and The Passage.

Mitzvah-Day-CEO-Stuart-Diamond-presenting-the-awards. Pic: Yakir Zur

The evening also featured a panel discussion, introduced by Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) CEO Claudia Mendoza and moderated by Mitzvah Day’s projects and partnership manager Laurie Shone.

JLC-Chair-Claudia-Mendoza-introduces-the-panel. Pic: Yakir Zur

The panel of Matthew Gold (Faith & Belief Forum), Es Rosen (President of Barnet Multi-Faith Forum), Rabbi Josh Levy (co-lead of Progressive Judaism), Rosie Tharp (London Borough of Camden) and Julie Siddiqi MBE discussed the importance of social action in interfaith work.

Rabbi Josh Levy said: “Mitzvah Day is one of those rare occasions where we get to meet someone we don’t know and work with them in a different way. Those relationships that we build in those moments are the things that then sustain us when times get difficult.”

Summing up the evening, Mitzvah Day CEO Stuart Diamond said: “Mitzvah Day shines a light on the heroes in our communities – the volunteers who dedicate themselves to service and the charities they empower. Together, they build bridges of understanding, tackle urgent needs, and make a lasting difference. Their stories inspire us all to embrace the power of collective action and create a kinder, stronger world.”

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