Posted on September 5, 2016 by David Cohen and Jodi Siegal
Once again this year, we are planning our second annual fall Mitzvah Day, which means if the high holy days are right around the corner, that must mean that Mitzvah Day is just down the block. This year we are planning an entire Mitzvah Month during November, starting with Mitzvah Day on November 6. In addition to old favorites, such as the blood drive, working in the garden, Nothing but Nets, a choir sing at a local nursing home, and volunteering at the local food bank, we are bringing back some other past favorites, and introducing some significant new offerings this year.
On a related note, our long-standing successful participation in the Interfaith Hospitality Network, through which we host homeless families for a week at a time periodically throughout the year, is sorely in need of new congregant hosts willing to take a shift either over the dinner hour, in the evening, or even spending the night at the temple on an occasional basis. We know this can feel intimidating if you have never done it before. That is why, again on this Mitzvah Day, we will be offering an orientation/training program for all interested members who would like to learn just how easy and rewarding serving as a host can be. Training will include both guidance on how best to support and interact with guests to truly make a difference in their lives, as well as the nuts and bolts of how we make hosting work in our building to keep our congregational home secure, avoid stepping on the toes of other temple users, and minimize the burden on our already hard-working custodial staff.
Sisterhood will again be running a one-day rummage collection to benefit the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization, and also a household items collection to benefit the Giving Network. Keep checking the temple e-letter for a list of desired items. Brotherhood is planning to spearhead the effort of helping out at Foodbank of Somerset County.
Our Mitzvah Month activities begin on October 30 with a breakfast cohosted with Brotherhood and focused on political dialogue in this election season. We have invited a bi-partisan panel of all three state legislative representatives for our district and look forward to a lively discussion around issues of local concern and ways to improve cooperation across the aisle in Trenton. We have also signed on with the URJ’s Nitzavim initiative to address racial justice issues around voter suppression. If you would like to help register voters, get out the vote in our congregation, and/or participate in assuring voting access on Election Day, please contact Liz Cohen.
Mitzvah Month will continue with a hoped-for sequel to last spring’s Habitat activity – we have requested a Build Day with Habitat for Humanity on November 13 and are looking for 10 to 14 hardy volunteers who want to contribute to the construction of an affordable housing unit for someone in need. The work session will last from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and adults are welcome, as are teenagers from 16-18 years old, if accompanied by an adult. (The use of power tools is a treat reserved for adults). Sorry we can’t accommodate child labor on this particular mitzvah opportunity. Please contact David Cohen if you are interested, to reserve your place on the crew – we hope to have overwhelming interest in this new opportunity, so best to get your name on the list sooner rather than later.
Mitzvah month will conclude with our annual interfaith Thanksgiving service, supporting IHN while we share our gratitude for all our blessings. Mark your calendars and join us on November 22.
Ani v’atah n’shaneh et ha olam –
Together, we can change the world!
David Cohen and Jodi Siegal
Originally published in the September-October 2016 issue of the Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives.