The Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation held their annual Mitzvah Day on Sunday 22nd November at the Synagogue on Avenue Road, Stoneygate. The event formed part of Inter faith week and was open to people of all faiths and none.
Challah, the plaited Jewish bread traditionally baked for Sabbath and holidays, was made by the 39 people that visited the synagogue that day. Grahame, who organised the event, demonstrated the plaited method using coloured dough, which was split into four parts and woven to create a four-part plait.
The 39 loaves baked were donated to Charity Link, an organisation that aims to help the needy by providing everyday necessities. The Challot were collected and distributed by the charity on the following morning.
Michele Benn, one of the organisers, was overjoyed that so many people had come along for the event. Children of all ages had attended with parents, as well as members of the wider Jewish and non-Jewish Community had come.
Solomon Diamond, aged 10, whose family regularly attend the synagogue thoroughly enjoyed getting stuck in. “It has been really good” he explained. “I’ve never baked Challah before”. Maryam, also 10, had fully liked her first visit to the synagogue. “It is so much fun, I will definitely be baking Challah at home with my sister” she exclaimed, whilst happily kneading the dough.
In the past, the synagogue has collected toiletries and other essentials to be donated to charities, as well as taking part in tree planting in local parks.
The Mitzvah Day was piloted in the UK in 2005 and became an independent charity in 2008. The aim is to give time, not money to make a difference to the local community. It introduces people to the concept of social action, as well as to their neighbours and local charities.
The event is aimed at bringing together the Jewish Community as well as other faiths to collectively work to help local causes.
Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephrain Mirvis was joined by Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra of Leicester, the Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain at London’s Edgeware synagogue, where a three-course meal was prepared for the homeless at the local Barnet Winter Shelter.
Synagogues up and down the UK took part, and people all over the globe participated. Projects in Germany, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and as far as Australia, held events to benefit their local communities and charities.
For more information visit http://www.mitzvahday.org.uk
By Fazila Bhana