Politicians come together to launch Mitzvah Day
Politicians from all parties, including a Government minister and a member of the Shadow Cabinet, came together in social action at the Parliamentary launch of Mitzvah Day on Monday (25 October).
Around 20 MPs and Peers from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties attended a special event in the House of Commons organised by Mitzvah Day along with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Jews.
Together they helped to pack hygiene kits for the charity Comfort Cases UK, which provides backpacks filled with personal care items for young people entering the foster care system.
MPs attending the event – the first held by Mitzvah Day in two years – included the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Robert Courts, Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green, Theresa Villiers, Kim Leadbeater, Robert Halfon, Lord Dholakia, Mark Fletcher, Christian Wakeford, Chris Elmore, Saqib Bhatti, John Howell and Fleur Anderson, Chair of the APPG on Charities and Volunteering.
It was hosted by Leeds North West Labour MP Alex Sobel, who brought his own children Zac (11) and Jakob (13) along to help pack. He said: “Mitzvah Day is so vital right now. In the last 20 months we have seen the response of the Jewish and faith communities to the pandemic, doing everything they can to support others, both on Mitzvah Day and all year round.
“I’ve seen the Jewish community, in Leeds and all over the UK, really stepping up to the plate and supporting people through a whole range of issues – whether its refugees, women and girls escaping violence, those in food poverty or, like we have today, children as they enter the foster care system.”
Robert Courts said: “Mitzvah Day is a lovely charity that does a whole host of great work for good causes, as well as bringing people of all backgrounds and none together.
“I was proud to support it today and also find out more about the vital work that Comfort Cases does for young people entering foster care.”
The launch event marked the start of the month leading up to Mitzvah Day (Sunday 21 November), the UK’s biggest faith-based day of social action.
The Parliamentarians were assisted by Mitzvah Day Chair Laura Marks OBE and Chief Executive Georgina Bye, Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman and members of the Comfort Cases UK team.
The event was held under Mitzvah Day’s theme for 2021 – ‘This Mitzvah Day, Together’ – reuniting people after more than 20 months of restrictions and isolation.
Mitzvah Day Chief Executive Georgina Bye said: “We have deeply missed in-person events and so, as we launched Mitzvah Day 2021 in Parliament, we celebrated togetherness.
“It is clear that MPs from all political backgrounds and faiths are united around our need to come together to do social action in our local communities.”
Comfort Cases UK CEO Sarah Laster added: “Meeting MPs from such varied constituencies today, thanks to the Board of Deputies and Mitzvah Day, will help spread the word of our work and ultimately reach more children throughout the country.
“The voluntary nature of Comfort Cases UK epitomises the theme of bringing communities together so we can share our mission of bringing hope and dignity to children entering foster care.”
Mitzvah Day Chair Laura Marks paid tribute to Sir David Amess and James Brokenshire, who would regularly attend the charity’s launches and events – including this annual one in Parliament.
She said: “It was wonderful to be back in the heart of Government this year to personally engage with MPs and Peers. However, James Brokenshire and Sir David Amess, both staunch and valued supporters of community-based initiatives and of Mitzvah Day, were sorely missed.”
Amanda Bowman, Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said it was “a real pleasure” to be able to raise awareness of the challenges young people in the foster care system face directly with MPs.
She added: “The theme of this year’s Mitzvah Day is togetherness, and we were delighted to bring together elected representatives from many different faith groups who took part with us in this initiative.”