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Jewish community, other faiths giving back during Mitzvah Weekend with common goal

Posted at 12:55 PM, Dec 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-24 12:55:50-05

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Hundreds of volunteers from the Jewish faith and others are delivering gifts and food to those in need as the annual Mitzvah program expands.

“I look forward to seeing the people we’re helping out,” Mitzvah Day volunteer Patty Stelmaszak said.

Stelmaszak says each year, Christmas weekend is a chance to donate time to help others. This year, the program led by the Jewish Community Relations Council in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit is expanding to a three-day event called Mitzvah Weekend.

Mitzvah, which is the Hebrew word for “commandment,” refers to doing a good deed.

“We have delivered food for many people, a food truck for Salvation Army one year, we worked at a dog shelter,” Stelmaszak said.

The JCRC also partners with other faiths to achieve a common goal.

“Hopefully 300 to 600 volunteers. Delivering meals, presents are very popular. There’s also working in shelters for animals,” JCRC Executive Director Rabbi Asher Lopatin said.

You can sign up for various causes on their website and places accepting help include the Pope Francis Center, Samaritas and the Michigan Humane Society. Volunteers will be able to not only give assistance but truly embrace the spirit of the holidays.

Interested in giving back? Volunteer opportunities for Mitzvah Weekend 2021

And since 1996, this effort has grown. This year despite COVID-19, they’ll be out safely doing acts of kindnesses.

“We want to be the Jewish and Muslim communities here when the Christian community might be home celebrating their holiday. We want to help although, a lot of Christians feel this is very much in keeping with Christmas as well,” Lopatin said.

Safety is a big part of the plan for this year after having to pause a lot of activities last year. Regardless of the changes, the good deeds will go a long way.