Six local synagogues, including The Community Synagogue, Temple Beth Israel, The Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore, Chabad of Port Washington, Port Jewish Center and Chevrat Tefillah, came together as a Jewish community and worked on over 35 mitzvah projects that benefited numerous local and worldwide recipients.
Hannah Siskin, 12, from Temple Beth Israel, summed up the reason for the day by saying: “It was so awesome to be able to do something to make someone else’s life better, even if you do not know who they are.”
The event kicked off with a Bagel Boss breakfast and opening ceremony at The Community Synagogue, led by Rabbi Zeplowitz, Cantor Franco and clergy from the other temples. During the next three hours congregates and members of the larger community worked on projects and collections taking place in the various buildings. The synagogues were buzzing with volunteers of all ages and interests working on projects and packaging necessities donated by congregates.
After a full day of work, Temple Beth Israel hosted the closing ceremony and celebration which included words of inspiration from Rabbi Mishkin, songs led by Cantor Blum, and recognition of four local heroes who have helped fight hunger in Port Washington.
These heroes include Sister Kathy Somerville of Our Lady of Fatima, Edna Turner of Twin Pines Co-Op, John Lamberti of Bayles Garden Center and Nursery and Sheryl Hendler, Aramark director of food service for the Port Washington School District.
In addition, guest speaker Syd Mandelbaum, founder of Rock & Wrap it Up, emphasized the tremendous need to continue the fight against poverty. He stressed that donating leftover food and participating in events like Mitzvah Day are vital components to combating hunger. During the closing, attendees prepared 200 breakfast bags which were immediately delivered to people in need of a nutritious meal. The day concluded with a dessert reception.
There was something extraordinarily powerful about seeing hundreds of people from multiple synagogues wearing the same event t-shirt and performing acts of kindness together.
The day would not have been possible without the participation of 30 local merchant sponsors and the generosity of congregants and residents throughout Port Washington.
Here is just a sampling of what was accomplished:
1,000-plus canned and packaged food collected for local food pantries.
5,000-plus toiletry items donated to needy recipients.
50 backpacks stocked with school supplies for disadvantaged children.
400 miscellaneous school supplies for those who in need.