A Marvellous Month of Mitzvahs
Usually, a blog like this, at the end of the year and following a wonderful Mitzvah Day, is filled with celebration and gratitude. However, before I share my appreciation for the phenomenal volunteers around the world it feels important to acknowledge that this has been a year none of us could have imagined. It has been filled with incredibly challenging circumstances, hardship and loss.
It feels insensitive and disingenuous to talk about silver linings when so many have lost their lives, loved ones and jobs but I think it’s fair to say that this period has taught us a lot. Covid-19 has impacted on all of us in some way, we’ve missed out on celebrating milestones, mourning together, and the regular rituals and festivals for people of all faiths and backgrounds.
So, I’d like to share some of my observations and reflections with you, celebrating the amazing work that has gone on over the last 9 months, whilst also holding the pain this year holds for so many of us.
- Honesty and Openness– we have learnt to be more honest and to ask more than once, how are you? The pandemic has shown us that although technology connects us in so many ways the truest connection comes from checking in on someone and having an honest conversation. Speaking truthfully about how we are feeling is one of the healthiest things we can do, as we can’t support one another if we don’t know what is going on. I found when volunteers called with questions and asked me, and truthfully wanted to know, how I personally was doing, was so touching and an important reminder that our relationships are far deeper than just an email or sign-up form.
- Commitment and Determination– we have all had to roll with the changes and it would have been easy to say let’s pass on Mitzvah Day this year. The sheer will and insistence to keep Mitzvah Day going is a testament to the incredible people who make Mitzvah Day happen in communities all over the world. Their dedication to helping others and supporting local needs, is to my mind one of the greatest things we could have ever asked for.
- Adaptability and Creativity– as the restrictions changed so did our projects. We’ve learnt to move online and embrace virtual spaces to come together. We shifted to a Month of Mitzvahs for the second lock down continuing our theme of #EveryMitzvahMatters and focussing on the small acts of kindness (Gemilut Chasadim being one of our core values at Mitzvah Day) we can all do safely from home. Truly the creativity and flexibility of the hundreds and thousands of volunteers has astounded us. With different countries and regions (prior to lock down) having different rules and regulations we have all had to adapt and change our regular projects to ensure we did these in the safest possible way, protecting volunteers and recipients.
- Thoughtfulness– we at Mitzvah Day were keen to support urgent needs and not to duplicate resources, especially in the immediate crisis response. Working hand-in-hand with charity partners meant we could, as we do every year, ask what they need most and how we can support. We identified two pressing causes that could be done in a Covid-safe way preventing transmission, supporting local food banks and making connections through letters, phone calls, video messages and more. More than this, the thoughtfulness that went in was transformed into the most amazing video compilations for care home residents, thousands of letters and cards, phone calls and doorstep-chats and deliveries brightening people’s day and countless bags of food donations.
- Selflessness– this is what permeates Mitzvah Day each year as people give their time to make a difference. It doesn’t matter what else is going on; thousands of people come together to offer their support to those who are most vulnerable and to support local causes.
Working with faith communities and volunteers from different backgrounds has always shown me that we have far more in common than divides us. It was a Reverend from a local church who taught me perhaps the most poignant lesson recently when she mentioned to me that there is beauty in holding both joy and sorrow at the same time. Although it has been harder than ever to come together, we have found new ways to connect, through honest conversations, acknowledging challenges without sugar coating things, and sharing when we are struggling. Our relationships are deeper and when we can finally come together again, I know it will be so much sweeter.
It’s certainly true that some of the most difficult times teach us the most, and despite the challenges it truly has been a “Marvellous Month of Mitzvahs”.
Mitzvah Day and indeed a Month of Mitzvahs could not have supported the plethora of food banks, and isolated and vulnerable people in our neighbourhoods without the thousands of inspiring and impressive volunteers who demonstrated all of the above qualities, giving their time, thoughtfulness and so much more to ensure Mitzvah Day projects around the UK and across the globe, happened despite the restrictions, and from the very bottom of my heart, I thank you.
We’d love to continue learning from you and to hear your thoughts and feedback so please get in touch and make sure to save the date for Mitzvah Day 2021 on November 21st!
Georgina, the Mitzvah Day team and Trustees