Federation Report: Let’s be ‘Better Together’ on Mitzvah Day

By Leslie Feldman and Mike Klein, Mitzvah Day Co-Chairs

We are thrilled to be co-chairing the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s 14th annual Mitzvah Day event to be held at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC) on February 2.

The purpose of this day is two-fold: to play and be active in fun-filled creative ways, but also to instil the Jewish values of helping others and giving back to the community. While enjoying one of the many different activities at Mitzvah Day, we should all be mindful that helping others can be fun and fulfilling.

The theme this year is “Better Together” and it depicts how we are all stronger when we are united and working toward a common cause. In an effort to include all age groups, from toddlers to teens, there are activities embodying a wide variety of mitzvot, from creating blankets to be donated to CHEO, to planting herbs and building donation towers.

As an integral part of Mitzvah Day, each year we collect several items to give to the needy or disadvantaged. This year, we are collecting single socks and kosher food cans and boxed food items at the SJCC (in the lobby) until Mitzvah Day.

We will take your clean, unmatched socks in any size and colour. These socks will live on as cat toys being made as a Mitzvah Day activity for the Furry Tales Cat Rescue organization.

And we are looking for many hundreds of kosher food cans and food boxes to supply our “can-gineering for food security” activity on Mitzvah Day. All the items will then be donated to the Ottawa Kosher Food Bank. Items that will be especially appreciated are diced tomatoes, cereal boxes, pasta boxes, matzo meal boxes, baby formula, granola bars, gluten-free items, canned tuna/salmon/corn/peas/fruit, and tomato paste.

The goal of these activities is to embrace tikkun olam and show our children how important it is to perform acts of kindness to better our world. As Jews, this is ingrained in our teachings and something we hope to pass on to the next generation.

Our favourite part of the day is seeing the children’s eyes light up as they grasp that they have done something good to help someone else. The recognition they wear on their faces and the pride they exude is very rewarding. Understanding what it means to give back is a lesson one is never too young to be taught.

Our hope for this Mitzvah Day and for future ones, is that the children and the community continue to recognize different and creative ways we can give back to the community and those around us. As our world continues to change, as will the diversity the mitzvot we can perform and the reach that they can extend to. We encourage future planners to jump on board and offer feedback and ideas to help make the future of Mitzvah Day even brighter for our Ottawa community. We can’t think of a more relevant time in our recent history to remind the world of the significance of community, sharing and mitzvah. Much thanks to our committee for all their hard work: Deanna Bertrend, Irena Beylis, Julie Bennett, Jonathan and Naomi Mitchell, Melissa Thompson, Rabbi Gavriel Rudin, Ranit Braun, and Sara Miller.

We hope to see you all there! Visit www.mitzvahdayottawa.com for more information and to register.