Think back to the High Holidays: How many of us wanted to do a mitzvah and “get involved” to usher in 5783? And, after a few months, things got busy, and you decided to add this to the New Year’s Resolutions- like going to the gym- to usher in 2023. And now, as school is winding down and the summer months are upon us, we still want to get involved and do good. You still have that chance. Here are some options to help get your “mitzvah” on for the summer.
Donate Blood- “Always give 100%, unless you’re donating blood.” There is always a need for people to donate blood, and blood products (plasma, platelets, and red blood cells). Personally, I always donate platelets as much as I am able to. All donations are welcome. Two good things about donating- 1) free juice and cookies after your donation, and 2) no “honey-do” list as you need to rest and relax and drink plenty of fluids. Donate blood, free juice and cookies, and I then am able to take the rest of the day off? Where do I sign up? Right here- https://vitalant.org/.
Donate Food- During the school year, students faced with food insecurity receive “Snack Packs” (care packages) for the weekend. This allows them to eat so they do not arrive at school Monday morning feeling malnourished. But what happens when school is not in session? To help alleviate this, please consider donating food to the Center for Food Action. You are always welcome to drop off the food at the synagogue in the baskets by both entrances – the Religious School entrance and the sanctuary entrance. Below is the list of items most requested. You can always find additional information at www.cfanj.org.
– Supermarket Gift Cards – Canned Meat (tuna, chicken, etc.)
– Canned Hearty Soups – Canned Vegetables
– Macaroni & Cheese – Peanut Butter & Jelly
– Tomato Sauce – Toothpaste, Toothbrush & Dental Floss
– Cold Cereal (low sugar) and Oatmeal – Powdered Milk and/or Boxed Milk, such as Parmalat
– Canned Fruits – Instant Potatoes
– 100% Juice – Baby Formula & Diapers sizes 4, 5 & 6
– Bar or Bottled Soap – Canned Dog Food & Canned Cat Food
Food Deliveries – During the week, members of Michelle Mitzvah will pick up food at Fresh Market in Montvale, NJ, and drop it off at either Center for Food Action, Oasis in Paterson, or Christ Episcopal Church in Suffern, NY.
Soup Kitchen- Speaking of Christ Episcopal Church, every Sunday, we help serve meals to our neighbors in need through their Feeding Ministry. Volunteers provide the entire meal, consisting of an entrée, beverage, snack, and fruit (usually 20 lunches) “take-out” style to guests from 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. Please write to Steve Simon (below) to sign up.
Community Garden- How many benefits are there to gardening? Let me count the ways. Among them, it reduces stress, it’s good for your heart, provides Vitamin D, and makes you happy. And all the produce is donated to the Food Pantry at Christ Episcopal Church, as it is their primary, sometimes their only, source of fresh produce. Come get your hands dirty at the garden located just to the right of the main entrance to the synagogue.
Those are just some of the ways to get involved and get your “mitzvah” on. And while there is no deadline, just remember, like going to the gym, the sooner you go, the quicker you will see results.
For questions and inquiries, please contact Steve Simon via email at [email protected].
The Michelle Mitzvah Group was formed some 25 years ago as a living memorial to honor one of the children of our temple community. One way we accomplish this is to work for the benefit of youth, both within our congregation and in the greater community at large. Within Beth Haverim Shir Shalom it is our hope that, through our work, we can teach our children the meaning of the word “mitzvah” and encourage them to participate in our efforts to visit the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and perform other acts of human kindness.
In our broader social community, we pledge to seek out those in need of physical, emotional, or educational assistance and provide them with the help and encouragement necessary for them to fulfill their life potential.
The primary focus of all our efforts is to develop broadly based, hands-on projects that will encourage participation from our membership, using their varied backgrounds and skills to benefit others.
No dues are assessed to those who wish to join the Michelle Mitzvah Group, and for those activities that may require financial assistance we shall reach out both to our BHSS community and to the greater communities that we live and work in for support.
ONGOING SOCIAL ACTION PROJECTS
The Center for Food Action (CFA) – Mahwah, NJ
People are amazed when we tell them that there is an organization with an office right here in Mahwah that helps feed over 40,000 of our Bergen County neighbors. For years we have done whatever we can to support this effort. During the High Holidays, BHSS congregants fill up CFA trucks parked right in front of our doors. Just inside the synagogue entrances are large baskets that we try to keep filled year round with food donations. Bar and bat mitzvah families ask their guests to bring bags of food to the synagogue on their very special day. We will continue collecting food on an ongoing basis, especially during the High Holidays. Today’s economy is not good… and the need is greater than ever. To learn more about the CFA, click here.
Oasis provides educational programming and critical support services, including food, clothing, and social services to women and children living in poverty. The primary goal of these programs and services is to mentor women and children to help them achieve their fullest potential. For more detailed information, visit their website.
Wanaque Convalescent Center and Children’s Specialized Hospital
Volunteers from BHSS visit Wanaque Convalescent Center on Christmas morning bringing smiles to the faces of handicapped children and staff. We also visit Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside NJ during the year. Cantor Perper leads us in song. If you have joined us for one of these visits you know what a special event it is. For more information, click here.
Tomorrow’s Children – Hackensack, NJ
This amazing organization serves children with cancer and severe blood disorders. Located at Hackensack Hospital, it was founded by a group of parents who met while their children were being treated for their serious illnesses. Some made it…others didn’t, but the parents never gave up and the result is a hospital wing that cares not only for the young patients but also provides support for their parents and siblings. BHSS has helped through a gift card program and is in the process of working out a closer “hands-on” relationship going forward.
Children’s Aid and Family Services (CAFS) – Paramus, NJ
One day, a member of the Michelle Mitzvah Group told us about a wonderful organization (founded in 1899) that he tries to help by dropping off gifts for the kids they service. He raved about it so much that several of us decided to go see for ourselves. We walked into their lobby and right before us was a sign on the wall with a quotation from Margaret Meade: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” By the time we left that day, we had learned that CAFS primarily helps children who have no families able to care for them and families who are facing challenges and transitions in life. Services include adoption and foster care for children, alcohol and drug abuse education and prevention, child care and early education, and counseling. Among other things, the Michelle Mitzvah Group is now working closely with CAFS on a program to supply much needed skilled volunteers. For more information see their website here.
Nathan LeBron Scholarship Fund
This fund was established by Nathan, a cancer survivor, who first came into contact with members of the Michelle Mitzvah Group in the summer of 1984 when one of our synagogue children was battling leukemia. Nathan decided to partner with the synagogue and the MMG to establish a scholarship fund to help disadvantaged young adults in order to give them the support they need to go onto college or technical school. It is his way of giving back the support he received during those difficult years.
The Michelle Mitzvah Group invites all congregants to get involved in the many projects and events planned now and throughout the year. There is something for everyone… there is much need, and our reward is in the giving.
For further information please contact the office at [email protected]
The Michelle Mitzvah Group is a part of the Social Action program of Beth Haverim Shir Shalom with a hands-on approach to its programs. Although the focus is on children, it encompasses the entire family and the community in which we live.