Weekend of mitzvah magic awaits

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Weekend of mitzvah magic awaits

More than 400 UK synagogues, schools, offices and youth clubs are signed up to do a specific Mitzvah Day event, with another 100 in the pipeline and a further 100 outside Britain.

Fifty Jewish and Muslim women at the Nisa-Nashim annual retreat
Fifty Jewish and Muslim women at the Nisa-Nashim annual retreat

An expected 40,000 worldwide volunteers, more than half of whom are in Britain, will take part in this year’s Mitzvah Day events on Sunday, with many projects having already begun.

To date, more than 400 UK synagogues, schools, offices and youth clubs are signed up to do a specific Mitzvah Day event, with probably another 100 in the pipeline by Sunday and a further 100 outside Britain.

About a quarter of the events are interfaith – and things kicked off with a bang last weekend when 50 Jewish and Muslim women from all over the country came together for the Nisa-Nashim annual retreat with an itinerary, and Mitzvah Day project, based around the shared immigration history of the two faiths.

It was the first time many of the participants had seen each other in more than two years, as the 2020 retreat had to be cancelled owing to the pandemic.

Kisharon Noé School pupils craft

Based in Brick Lane Mosque in east London, the Mitzvah Day project focused on today’s refugees, who have fled persecution and are making the UK home.

The group also spent time in faith buildings with a shared history, such as the mosque itself, which was first a church and then a synagogue, and Sandys Row Synagogue, in the East End, which is one of the oldest Ashkenazi synagogues in the country and likewise started life as a church.

Time was also spent at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace on Bishopsgate, where Sunday morning was dedicated to sessions on discussing difficult situations including Israel/Palestine.

Mitzvah Day’s chair, Laura Marks, who is co-founder of Nisa-Nashim, said: “Our Jewish and Muslim women wrote messages of welcome and support, which will be distributed to specific refugee families in Bournemouth and London on Mitzvah Day, along with a gift, to make them feel welcomed and loved.”

Keir Starmer at South Hampstead Synagogue with Mitzvah Day dounder Laura Marks, sorting through items which will be donated to charity. (Credit: Yakir Zur) 2020

Meanwhile, pupils at Kisharon Noé School spent a Mitzvah Day morning, colouring and sticking, to make get well cards for distribution to people in hospital, via the charity Bedside Kosher.

A group of volunteers from Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue spent a morning weeding, raking and tidying at Canons Park Memorials Gardens. They then headed off to support an Association of Jewish Refugees’ tree-planting ceremony for its ‘80 Trees for 80 Years’ project.


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