Jonathan Levy (parent):
Our family has participated now in four Mitzvah Day events, one of our most anticipated social action experiences of the year. There are several reasons for this, but none more notable than this activity weaves our family into the core of what Congregation Or Ami and Judaism are all about – community, giving, action, education and compassion.
Our entire family is able to participate in Mitzvah Day together and do so in a very personal way. Not only do we follow a script by filling bags for children who will rely on them to help calm their emotions and fill some basic, fundamental voids at a very scary time — but we can also sprinkle in our personal messages of hope by creating a “sweet dreams” pillow case so that each child can carry with them our positive messages no matter how many places they and their pillow case may travel.
Mitzvah Day also helps us to teach our children about compassion and action. It is one thing to hear about others who have to suffer through turmoil but it is quite a different thing to lift your hands and do something about it.
Sure, we can always do more – but we have to start by teaching our children first and second steps. With each activity and initiative at Or Ami like Mitzvah Day, our children continue taking steps along a path of volunteerism and community building. They find their place to participate instead of standing on the sidelines. They see us, their parents and teachers, not just speaking about it, but doing it with them, side by side.
And in the end, they start to realize the breadth of what they can accomplish by the simple tasks of spending a few hours filling a few bags, doodling a few inspiring notes and messages, picking a few plush, comfy stuffed “animal friends,” and doing for others as they might hope others would do for them.