Mitzvah is a Hebrew word - it means a good deed.
Mitzvah Day is the UK's largest faith-based day of social action, organised by leading members of the Jewish community. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, were among tens of thousands of volunteers on 19 November 2017, supporting the elderly, homeless, refugees and some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.
Muslim Aid chose to focus on Mitzvah Day as part of our interfaith programme, following on from the successful Abraham Initiative in summer 2017 when our volunteers collaborated with Christians and Jews to clean and polish a church and a synagogue.
“The Muslim concept of Sadaqa is very similar to the concept of doing mitzvahs,” says Muslim Aid director Zac Hussain. “We think it’s vital to work alongside other faiths for the good of those less fortunate than ourselves, building on our considerable similarities and combating misconceptions rooted in lack of knowledge of each other’s faiths and cultures.”
Muslim Aid was operating in both North and East London on Mitzvah Day 2017. Our volunteers supported vulnerable adults in their homes in East London, people who are physically disabled, partially sighted or challenged by mental health issues. Alongside Jewish and Salvation Army volunteers, the team carried out gardening work, giving great pleasure as many of the people take great pride in their gardens and are unable to maintain them. They also did housework and offered conversation and support.
Meanwhile at St John’s Hospice, St John’s Wood, our staff and volunteers donated clothes, books and toys with the help of Dr Ahmad Al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre (Regents Park Mosque). “We were delighted to meet Dr Dubayan and engage the Muslim community in this important interfaith activity,” adds Zac Hussain.
Lady Daniela Pears from Mitzvah Day shared activities with our volunteers and Rabbi Dyan Binstock from St John’s Wood synagogue gave them a tour of his synagogue. Muslim Aid Interfaith Media Manager Beverley Cohen gave a speech about Muslim Aid's overseas work and our passion for interfaith projects.
Muslim Aid volunteer Angela McDowall said, “I loved meeting all the Jewish people and most of us had never been inside a synagogue before. It's wonderful to get together and help people at the hospice and it's nice to know that people all over the country are helping others. It's also good to really understand the meaning of the word Mitzvah.”
META - Muslim Aid continued participating in their innovative multifaith project by providing support to people in need in St John's Wood on Mitzvah Day 2017.