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Progressive communities come together on Mitzvah Day

 

From Edgware to Edinburgh, and even inside 10 Downing Street, Progressive Judaism communities and members all across the country did good deeds to help others on Mitzvah Day. 

Movement heads Rabbis Josh Levy and Charley Baginsky led the way, joining with Muslim leaders and volunteers in two unique interfaith events. 

At 10 Downing Street Rabbi Charley joined Akshata Murty, the wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Mitzvah Day Chair Laura Marks and young Jewish leader and charity founder Laurie Shone, as well as architect and social worker Ahmereen Reza OBE, award-winning campaigner Elizabeth Arif-Fear and community cohesion expert Hadiya Masieh from the Muslim communities. 

Together they decorated and wrote No10 Christmas cards as a thank you to the incredible team at St John’s Hospice, which provides care to people living with life-limiting illnesses and their families across North London (picture by Simon Dawson). 

Rabbi Charley said: “This was a really beautiful event to build relationships between our Jewish and Muslim communities, held right in the heart of Government. In these extremely difficult times for faith relations, it was a reminder of what we can achieve when we come together.” 

At the JW3 Community Centre, Rabbi Josh was interviewed by Sky News and filmed by BBC News at Ten as he helped to pack and sort items for the JW3 Foodbank, alongside Jewish and Muslim volunteers of all ages (picture by Keith Gold). 

He said: “The power of Mitzvah Day is that it puts our Jewish values into action. And, as I saw first-hand at JW3, it also helps to create, develop and deepen vital connections both within and across faiths. This work is now more important than ever.” 

Sir Ed Davey joined Rabbi Dr René Pfertzel at Kingston Liberal Synagogue, where they helped people from many different faith groups pack bags of crafted and donated good to support those most at risk this winter through the charity RBKares. Rabbi René described the Liberal Democrat leader as “a great friend of the community”, adding: “We were also joined by many more friends from local faith communities and the local authorities. It seemed so important to celebrate the diversity of our society in a time of high divisions.” 

Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue was a buzz of activity on both Thursday and Sunday. On the Thursday evening community members joined with Muslim and Hindu women to chop and cook a vegetable soup for the EHRS night shelter. The event was filmed for a Sky News documentary. On Sunday, there were activities including food drives, toy drives, Chanukah-card making for those in care homes and a clean-up and bulb planting at Boxtree Park, led by Rabbi Tanya Sakhnovich, the EHRS Eco Team and the Friends of Harrow Weald. 

The community at Maidenhead Synagogue were joined by Julie Siddiqi MBE, Windsor and Maidenhead Mayor Neil Knowles, Reverend Sally Lynch and many local Jews, Muslims and Christians for a whole day of activities. The synagogue’s Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain said: “There was a certain nervousness about Mitzvah Day that we had never experienced before: would the Muslim community, who had joined us in previous years, feel able to do so this time? The answer was a resounding ‘yes’ and they made it clear that whatever was happening in the Middle East, we would not let that stop our joint work here. This was faith at its best – honest, co-operative and pro-active.”

Some of the many Progressive projects undertaken on Mitzvah Day are described below. Is yours hasn’t featured yet, please send a picture and sentence about what you did to SimonR@progressivejudaism.org.uk

A full set of pictures can be found on our Facebook page and will be featured in the next LJ Today, a special edition covering the whole of Progressive Judaism. 

 

Menorah Synagogue: 

At an intra-faith Mitzvah Day in Manchester, members from Menorah Reform Synagogue teamed up with the Orthodox Bowden Synagogue to cook for the homeless at The Wellspring Project.

 

Edinburgh: 

Members of Sukkat Shalom Progressive Synagogue, the Matana Club and Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation and came together to pick litter around the city. 



Southgate Progressive Synagogue: 

Putting a focus on hunger, the children at Southgate Progressive Synagogue’s Ruach Religion School took on sponsored tasks in return for items for the Enfield Foodbank. 

 

York Liberal Jewish Community:  

Members of York Liberal Jewish Community rolled up their sleeves and gave themselves quite the workout – digging up a new wildflower meadow for St Nick’s Nature Center. 

 

Newcastle Reform Synagogue: 

Older members of Newcastle Reform Synagogue collected essential items for the homeless and refugees, while cheder children made bird boxes and feeders for the shul’s garden. 

 

The Liberal Synagogue Elstree: 

Parents and students at The Liberal Synagogue Elstree’s Hub made sandwiches and biscuits for Borehamwood Foodbank and planted bulbs donated by Gratitude for the wider community. 

 

North West Surrey Synagogue: 

Volunteers from North West Surrey Synagogue (NWSS) in Weybridge collected 20 trollies of food, outside their local Waitrose and Morrisons, to support Runnymede Foodbank. 


Finchley Progressive Synagogue: 

Rabbi Rebecca Birk led a family craft and cake afternoon at Finchley Progressive Synagogue making Christmas packages for the families that use the Rainbow Centre community hub in Barnet.


Alyth Synagogue: 

The children at Alyth Synagogue in Golders Green spent Mitzvah Day sorting and weighing donations for the Child’s Hill Food Bank at All Saints’ Church, which helps 50-70 families every week. 

  

Radlett Reform Synagogue: 

Radlett Reform Synagogue’s children made dreidels, decorations and goodie bags for Norwood residents to use and enjoy at their forthcoming Chanukah party. 

 

East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue: 

Mitzvah Day fun at East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue included singing, bingo and a visit to the Uniting Friends day care facility for people of all faiths who have additional needs. 

 

Finchley Reform Synagogue: 

Finchley Reform Synagogue was filled with the sound of happy families as Jews, Christians and Muslims came together for an event of fun, song and dance for local asylum seekers. 

 

Milton Keynes and District Reform Synagogue: 

Members of all ages from Milton Keynes and District Reform Synagogue ventured outdoors to pick litter and tidy the local area. 

 

RSY-Netzer

RSY leaders went to Harrow Recreation Ground with Hamakom and the Harrow Litter Pickers to help clean up the park.

 

Brighton: 

The Reform and Liberal communities of Brighton joined together to decorate mugs and put together food packages for users of the Brighton Housing Trust. 

 

The Ark Synagogue: 

A team of volunteers from The Ark Synagogue, led by Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein, helped to clear and tidy Croxley Common Moor. 

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