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Mitzvah Day: 11th annual charity event sees food cooked for homeless and Highgate Cemetery tidied

PUBLISHED: 09:30 19 November 2019

A Mitzvah Day planting project at the new Tarling Road home of the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association. Picture: Yakir Zur

A Mitzvah Day planting project at the new Tarling Road home of the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association. Picture: Yakir Zur

@ Yakir Zur Photography

Mitzvah Day's eleventh year saw faith leaders celebrate the poignant opening of an East Finchley community centre and politicians vying for tightly-fought north London seats in next months election cease hostilities to support the cause.

Rabbis Danny Rich and Rebecca Birk cleaning at Highgate Cemetery for Mitzvah Day. Picture: Yakir ZurRabbis Danny Rich and Rebecca Birk cleaning at Highgate Cemetery for Mitzvah Day. Picture: Yakir Zur

The 2019 incarnation of the "day of giving", founded by Laura Marks OBE in 2008, also included events at locations including the JW3 Centre in Finchley Road, the Golders Green Hippodrome and even Highgate Cemetery - where volunteers helped tidy up.

Labour, Tory and Lib Dem candidates for both the Finchley and Golders Green and Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary seats were all at JW3, where they got involved in a busy day of volunteering.

The Pond Square Chapel Night Shelter in Highgate was one beneficiary - eager amateur chefs used leftovers and spare food from their own fridges to cook meals for those in need.

Afterwards, Laura said: "In this political climate, when everything is so unclear, one thing we can be sure of is that our environmental climate needs our attention.

Mitzvah Day saw bulbs planted at locations including the Islamic Centre at the Golders Green Hippodrome. Picture: Yakir ZurMitzvah Day saw bulbs planted at locations including the Islamic Centre at the Golders Green Hippodrome. Picture: Yakir Zur

"By focussing on the environment for Mitzvah Day this year, something we share with all humanity and with our neighbours from all faiths and backgrounds, we ground ourselves in real tangible and positive local action."

As part of the green theme, trees and bulbs were planted in shows of solidarity. These included at the Hippodrome in Golders Green, which is subject to an ongoing planning row over its continued use as an Islamic community centre by the Markaz El Tathgheef El Eslami group (MTE).

But after the Mitzvah Day event organised by the Nisa-Nashim group saw bulbs planted to symbolise strong inter-faith relations, Razi Zadeh who manages the centre said: "It was a pleasure to work together with our Jewish friends and neighbours on Mitzvah Day, in our local community, to do something nice for people in care homes. It was a great way to bring everyone together to work on a local cause."

East Finchley's newly-opened Tarling Road Community Centre - home of the Somali Bravanese Welfare Assocation which was rendered homeless after an arson which saw "EDL" daubed on walls destroyed its old HQ in Coppetts Lane, Muswell Hill back in 2013. A number of rabbis including Muswell Hill's David Mason attended, helping with a similar bulb-planting event.

Members of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John's Wood joined up with Sikh campaigners Nishkam Swat to cook for the homeless. Picture: Mitzvah DayMembers of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John's Wood joined up with Sikh campaigners Nishkam Swat to cook for the homeless. Picture: Mitzvah Day

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Mitzvah Day's philosophy is for volunteers to give time, not money to help community causes. It now takes place all over the country.

Golders Green Synagogue members made sensory cards for disability charity Aleh. Picture: Mitzvah DayGolders Green Synagogue members made sensory cards for disability charity Aleh. Picture: Mitzvah Day

Six faiths cooking together at JW3 for Mitzvah Day and the Pond Square Chapel Night Shelter. Picture: Oli SandlerSix faiths cooking together at JW3 for Mitzvah Day and the Pond Square Chapel Night Shelter. Picture: Oli Sandler

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