Doing Social Justice and Mitzvot Together
Mitzvot B’Yahad (MitzBy) provides members of our Beth Sholom community the opportunity to uphold Judaism’s central tenets of Tikkun Olam (repair the world) and Gemilut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness). Whether it is the Mitzvah Food Pantry, Cook for a Friend, Make a Difference Day blanket making, Helene’s Heroes Blood Drives or learning forums that expand our awareness of social justice issues, Mitzvot B’Yahad provides a home and support for these activities to flourish. We believe in the strength and power of individuals coming together to make a difference. Mitzvot B’Yahad – together. Never has working together been more needed as communities continue to navigate the many challenges of a post pandemic world.
On Thursday evening, May 6, 2021, the Hittinger Family, MitzBy and the Old York Road Kehillah jointly co-sponsored a virtual Annual Reitenberg Memorial Program. Amy Spitalnick, Executive Director of Integrity First for America (IFA), spoke about this nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which is dedicated to defending principles of democracy, civil rights and equal social justice. The program was moderated by Shira Goodman, Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Philadelphia, who addressed the growth of white supremacist and far-right extremist movements in America. IFA attorneys are currently representing a group of peaceful protestors from the Charlottesville community in a landmark legal case against two dozen neo-Nazis and members of hate groups who planned and executed violent riots in Charlottesville.
Prior to the onset of COVID-19, our work was ongoing, day in and day out, to meet peoples’ needs. But MitzBy was also ready to respond to an unexpected crisis. Our Mitzvah Food Pantry, a joint project with the Federation of Greater Philadelphia, typically served 120- 150 families weekly pre-COVID. It was then designated an Emergency Food Site during the pandemic. Under the able leadership of Beverly McFadden, Stuart Warsetsky and their steadfast group of volunteers, all necessary safety precautions were put in place to ensure that members of our own community continued to receive nutritious food for their families during an especially difficult time. As our sanctuary is a beacon of spiritual light, our Mitzvah Food Pantry is a beacon of sustenance and hope to our friends and neighbors.
Cook for a Friend volunteers, under the dedicated leadership of Rachel Black and Marilyn Rubin, have not been able to use the BSC kitchen during the pandemic. As soon as our building reopens, they will resume cooking meals for hundreds of people each month. These meals will again be delivered to Klein Life for distribution to seniors and other adults who are not able independently to access nutritious food on a regular basis.
On MLK Make A Difference Day, MitzBy worked with Marlene Snyder, founder of Kare4Kids, who was able to provide instructions virtually for blanket making. We implemented a safe, contactless way to distribute fabric pieces and to collect 70–75 finished blankets that were then delivered to various social service agencies and shelters by Marlene and her husband, Bob. This project provided our community an opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of families. We thank Marlene and Bob for their continuing commitment and involvement in the BSC community.
Helene’s Heroes Blood Drives – Rene Feitelson did an excellent job of working with the Red Cross to ensure that Beth Sholom’s blood drives were successful, despite challenging, increased protocols due to COVID-19. Under her tireless efforts, BSC held two very well organized blood drives, including one in April during the pandemic with all appropriate safety precautions taken. We thank Rene, as well as Stanley Daniel, Stacey Salsman and our staff and volunteers who ensured a safe donation space. The need for blood donations remains high. Please consider donating if you do not already do so. This is truly a vitally important gift of life. We hope that the year 5782 will be one that brings peace, health and prosperity. But we know that our work is critical to making these things happen. MitzBy will continue its ongoing work – but there is so much more to do as we engage in additional initiatives such as:
- establishing a Chesed Committee to help families during Shiva– organizing and ordering/cooking meals for those in mourning; providing support for minyanim.
- expanding our Kare4Kids blanket making beyond the one MLK Make a Difference Day;
- finding ways to engage our teens with environmental/sustainability projects and engaging all of our school children in social action through volunteerism;
- increasing our awareness of and support the interfaith work being done in our community to build mutual understanding and respect;
- participating in Old York Road Kehillah Social Action projects and programs, under the committed leadership of Kim Decker.
Please think about ways in which you would like to volunteer – MitzBy is interested in your ideas and passions. Join us!
For more information, contact Marjorie Boxbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MitzBy Members: Marge Boxbaum, Amy Cohen, Anthony Pomeranz, Bernard Epstein, Beverly McFadden, Carol Nemeroff, Chaya Pittler, Connie Clarke, Danielle Otero, Judi Shapiro, Ellyn Lehr, Marilyn Rubin, Nancy Osborn, Rene Feitelson, Devorah Roberts, Robin Katz, Ronne Hellman, Ruth Bluethenthal-Appel, Sarah Hittinger, Marlene Snyder, Robert Snyder, Stuart Warsetsky and Susan Weinberg.