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Mitzvah Day – A House for All People

Written By: Amber Shaikh

Mitzvah Day is a commandment to do good deeds. Jews and Christians here in Buffalo have been doing this for over a decade and then after the 9/11 tragedy, they decided to include Muslims to take part on this event.

It’s a day where all three congregations from Temple Beth Zion, Westminster Presbyterian, and ISNF get together and do some charity work for 2 hours and then break bread afterwards. Othman Shibly was one of the co-chairs involved and then 3 years ago, he asked me to take his place as co-chair of Mitzvah Day. At the same time, the new junior Rabbi, Lori Green also joined in as co-chair. We chaired projects for about 30 sites that needed our help with gardening, cleaning, cooking, food sorting, painting, making blankets, entertaining the elderly, etc. Children were also involved in most of the projects.

This year we decided to cut down our projects to only 13 sites on one day but do Mitzvah day throughout the year instead of just one day. We had a pulpit swap from all three congregations in 3 days in February. Imam Nazim made a beautiful speech at Westminster Presbyterian, the new Senior Rabbi Pokras made a speech after Jumah at our Masjid An-Noor, and Pastor Yorty made his speech at Temple Beth Zion. In March, we had dialogues at all three congregations and in April  we volunteered to help with Walk/Run for Hunger downtown for Friends of the Night. We recruited captains who recruited volunteers to help out with Mitzvah Day on May 19th. We are also planning to do more projects in the fall and are always looking for more volunteers to help out.