Mitzvah Day: ‘It fills me with hope to see how generous our communities have been’
- Credit: Yakir Zur
South Hampstead Synagogue set up a Covid-safe collection point outside the building for members and residents to donate items on Mitzvah Day on Sunday.
Everything collected will go to three different local charities dedicated to fighting the crisis of food poverty – Castlehaven Food Bank in Chalk Farm, St Mary’s Church in Primrose Hill and the New Horizon Youth Centre, which helps teenagers and young adults all across London who are homeless or vulnerable.
Getting involved was Labour leader and Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer, who said: “I am delighted to be back at South Hampstead Synagogue to take part in their Mitzvah Day projects. I wish these food donations were not needed, but it fills me with hope to see how generous and resilient our community has been in rising to the challenges of the last few months.”
He added: “Mitzvah Day is a wonderful opportunity to see people of different faiths working together to enrich their local communities. While this year feels very different, the Jewish values behind Mitzvah Day of tikkun olam, healing our world, and gemilut hasadim, acts of loving kindness, are more important than ever.”
Mitzvah Day is the highlight of a “month of mitzvahs” taking place throughout November in order to focus on two major crises in society – food poverty and loneliness.
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Mitzvah Day founder and chair Laura Marks OBE, who lives in Primrose Hill and joined Sir Keir at the collection, said: “South Hampstead’s long-term relationships with these local charities and with the church, set up and nurtured through Mitzvah Day, are even more important during the pandemic.
“Even stuck outside in the car park in the rain, the small acts of kindness we saw today brought a warmth and community spirit that just can’t be dampened. Huge thanks to people from all faiths and backgrounds who donated, and to Sir Keir for joining us yet again.”
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Also visiting South Hampstead Synagogue was Belsize Liberal Democrat councillor and London mayoral candidate Luisa Porritt, who said: “Every year on Mitzvah Day, the Jewish community shows incredible generosity and care for our wider community in Camden and beyond through a mass practical effort to help those in need.
“This year that generosity feels especially poignant, as the number of families and individuals in need of extra support has grown due to the pressures of the pandemic.
“At South Hampstead Synagogue today, it was amazing to see so many people arriving one by one to drop off donations of food and other items.
“Mitzvah Day is a reminder that we can all step up and do more good deeds for others, and that’s a value we can commit to all year round.”
The South Hampstead collection was organised by long-term Mitzvah Day coordinator and volunteer Ben Leon, along with his hard-working committee.
JW3, in Finchley Road, has been running a foodbank throughout the pandemic. Items, ideally non-perishable foods, can be delivered the Lymington Road entrance from 10am to midday every Wednesday.