UJA-NNJ Mitzvah Day site-hopping
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UJA-NNJ Mitzvah Day site-hopping

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Klene Up Krewe, a project of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, has brought local groups to New Orleans for rebuilding efforts since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Klene Up Krewe 5 lasted three days and included 36 participants and coincided with Mitzvah Day. A member of the New Orleans Saints-Pierson Prioleau – joined the group Sunday to help renovate Camp Hope 3 in St. Bernard Parish. The Krewe is pictured here in St. Bernard after working on three homes destroyed by the hurricane. The Klene Up Krewe is led by co-chairs (and Berrie Fellows) David Goodman and Larry Weiss. Another rebuilding trip is planned for early 2010.

On Nov. 1, UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey offered area Jews an opportunity to do good. Mitzvah Day 2009 sent some 1,500 volunteers all over Bergen and Passaic counties to help others in the community.

Among the projects:

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Cantor Bill Walton of the Glen Rock Jewish Center helps Irwin Hoffman as he plays a game at the Mitzvah Day carnival at the Daughters of Miriam Center in Clifton. Ken Hilfman

“¢ At the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Milford, volunteers made Chanukah cards for Israeli soldiers and crafted Shabbat/Chanukah placemats to be donated to Tomchei Shabbos in Fair Lawn and Elmwood Park. Linda Scherzer Mikay, a former CNN reporter in Israel, helped her 5-year-old twins Noa and Danny make cards. Schechter students Elisheva Gold and Rebecca Finkelstein, both 10 years old, worked on the placemats.

“¢ An American soldier, just back from Iraq, joined a group at the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Congregation B’nai Israel assembling and packing donated personal care items to be mailed to American bases overseas. The soldier had received a similar care package last year. Site captains Mark Meisel and Barbara Seiden said they were “very pleased” with the work of some 30 volunteers, who “finished early.”

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Alyson Angstreich, a student at Ramapo College in Mahwah and member of Hillel, works with a child at a Friendship Circle Mitzvah Day event at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey in River Edge. Courtesy Hillel

“¢ A first-time visit was made to the Federation Apartments in Paterson by the dance troupe of the Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies. Principal Fred Nagler, who accompanied the students, noted that the group performed both Israeli and contemporary dances. Michal Richardson, a teacher at the school, involved the audience in “dancing with their hands and bodies.”

“¢ Technology played an important role with wheelchair-bound residents at the Daughters of Miriam Center in Clifton. Jacob Reiss, 12, Jeremy Winter, 13, and Isadora Baron, 12, helped residents with a remote control as they played Wii games on a wide television screen. Other attractions at the annual DOM Mitzvah Day Carnival included Clown Toss, Target Toss, and Tip the Can. Rabbi Neil Tow and Cantor Bill Walton of the Glen Rock Jewish Center were on hand to assist the residents. Assistant Director for Activities Leah McCrae, whose 9-year-old son, Gerard, helped out as well, was in charge of distributing prizes.

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Ten-year-olds Elisheva Gold, left, and Rebecca Finkelstein prepare Shabbat/Chanukah placemats to be donated to Tomchai Shabbos of Fair Lawn and Elmwood Park at the Mitzvah Day event at the Solomon Schechter Day School. KEN HILFMAN

Alice Blass, Mitzvah Day coordinator, said that the day “was filled with good feeling,” pointing out that one student at SSDS in Bergen celebrated her birthday by inviting friends to join her at the Mitzvah Fair for Families at the school. And not only did hundreds of people participate in the event, but “we even had dogs and a guinea pig visiting with seniors.”

Cheryl Wylen, coordinator of Mitzvah Day at the YM-YWHA of North Jersey in Wayne, reported that activities there included a blood drive, making Chemo caps to be donated to Chilton Hospital for cancer patients, and making centerpieces for Cafe Europa’s Chanukah party. Donations included cell phones for Phones for Life; eyeglasses for New Eyes for the Needy; and purses for Mature Sistah’s Homeless Shelter for Women.

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