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Hampstead and Highgate play crucial role in Mitzvah Day ‘selflessness’

PUBLISHED: 18:04 28 November 2016 | UPDATED: 12:55 30 November 2016

Chief Rabbi and South Hampstead Synagogue members at St Mary's Church Shelter    Picture: Yakir Zur

Chief Rabbi and South Hampstead Synagogue members at St Mary's Church Shelter Picture: Yakir Zur

Yakir Zur - YZ Photography

People of all religions and none joined Mitzvah activities across Hampstead and Highgate for a day of doing good.

Luciana Berger and Rabbi Danni Rich help young volunteers wrap presents for refugees at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue       Picture: Yakir ZurLuciana Berger and Rabbi Danni Rich help young volunteers wrap presents for refugees at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue Picture: Yakir Zur

Yesterday’s Mitzvah Day involved more than 40,000 people in 25 countries, with 25,000 of them in the UK, and focused on the theme of helping refugees.

The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John’s Wood hosted Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger as they wrapped gifts for refugees, while Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq took part in an event with the Muslim Teachers’ Association, Jewish Teachers’ Association and the Jewish Muslim Women’s Network.

The founder of the Mitzvah Day charity – a Jewish initiative to unite communities for one day of good deeds every year – said 2016’s effort was an attempt to “bring people together” when the need has “never been greater and more vital”.

Laura Marks said: “Since the EU referendum and US presidential election campaigns, we’ve seen a recorded rise in racism and hate crimes, and a heightened fear of the outsider.

Keir Starmer at the South Hampstead Synagogue chederKeir Starmer at the South Hampstead Synagogue cheder

“Seeing members of many different faiths sitting side-by-side wrapping Christmas presents, or making cards and teddy bears, for those who have been through so much hardship shows everything that is good about our society.”

The 24 hours of virtuousness also included Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer visiting South Hampstead Synagogue cheder and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan being handed biscuits for a refugee Christmas party collected at Alyth Reform Synagogue in Finchley Road.

Mayor Khan said: “Thousands of volunteers of all faiths in London, and around the UK and the world, gave up their time to bring our communities together, in the service of others, for Mitzvah Day 2016.

“From supporting young asylum seekers to helping at homeless shelters, the selflessness and kindness shown during this special day is a big part of what makes our city, and our country, so great.”

Mayor Sadiq Khan with Laura Marks     Picture: Yakir ZurMayor Sadiq Khan with Laura Marks Picture: Yakir Zur

Hundreds of Jewish, Muslim and Christian volunteers also headed to Jewish cultural centre JW3, in Finchley Road, to make teddy bears, storybooks and blankets for refugees as well as food and winter survival packs for the homeless.

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