When the pandemic forced all in-person community gatherings to end, Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey had to reimagine its Mitzvah Day hallmark community event. Traditionally the day offered hands-on projects for families to do at Federation offices in Paramus.
Federation recently held a successful reimagined “Supplies for Success” backpack program and used this as a benchmark for building a new Mitzvah Day model. “The needs in our community are only growing, so we knew we had to figure out a way to make this event happen,” said Lauri Ann Weinstein who has co-chaired Mitzvah Day for over a decade. Added Tracy Limbardo, co-chair, “For 2020, we can’t and won’t let this pandemic stop us from providing necessary services to the broader community. The needs are growing every day and this is no time to even consider ‘canceling” Mitzvah Day.”
After brainstorming, “Mitzvah Day on the Move” was born – a safe, healthy, way of providing mitzvah opportunities for families and their trusted friends in their own homes. It’s called a “Mitzvah Pop-Up.” Penny Samuels, Mitzvah Day co-chair, added “People are home, people want to help. Mitzvah Day on the Move gives them the opportunity to “do good and feel good” despite the obstacles of the pandemic.”
Pick up dates for Mitzvah Day on the Move projects are November 10 to 12 and drop off of finished products will be on November 24.
According to Jason Shames, Federation CEO, “We are thrilled with the response from the community. There will be over 70 “mitzvah pop-ups” all over the community in people’s homes and thousands of projects will be distributed to seniors, men and women in shelters, hospitalized patients, and front-line workers. This is what Federation does and the pandemic isn’t going to stop us.”
Mitzvah Day on the Move evolved as a stop gap to the pandemic but is likely to have a more permanent role in how volunteer programs are executed in the future. For more information, go to jfnnj.org/mitzvah or email Shara Nadler at SharaN@jfnnj.org.