Members of the Hollis Hills Jewish Center did not have a typical Sunday of sleeping late, watching television or just relaxing. Instead the group spent the morning giving back to the community by performing mitzvot, a Hebrew word meaning good deeds.
The synagogues second annual Mitzvah Day entailed volunteering at the Police Department or Fire Department, visiting a hospital or a nursing home, or doing work in the temple. Children and adult worshipers chose a mitzvah, the singular form of mitzvot, and followed a team captain to one of five sites to carry out the good deed.
One day a year we say stop everything else your doing. Stop watching TV, playing baseball, eating lunch and lets do mitzvot, said the synagogues rabbi, Joseph Simckes. The way to be a good person is to do good deeds.
State Sen. Daniel Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) arranged for the rabbi and the synagogues children to meet firefighters at Engine Co. 326 on Springfield Blvd. They thanked the firefighters for their community work, but the rainy weather canceled plans to paint yellow lines on parking spaces. Others showed their appreciation of the police and were excited to get a tour of the 111th Precinct, including the stations jail cell.
Since 9/11 were letting the guys know at the Fire Department and Police Department that were respectful of them and we honor them, said Simckes. The person who does the mitzvah gets more out of it than the person who receives it.
Another group of volunteers brought balloons to the Margaret Tietz Center for Nursing Care in Jamaica and played games and sang with the senior citizens. Patients at the St. Marys Childrens Hospital were greeted with get-well cards and the volunteers helped them make Mothers Day cards.
Other children helped with maintenance work at the temple by fixing the binding on prayer books, repairing scratches on a piano, and painting coat racks. After their good deeds, everyone met for a lunch at the synagogue.
We feel were part of a community and wed like to help those around us, remarked Rita Plush, who was a co-chairman of the event. We like to show our thanks and reach out and do something.
©2002 Community News Group
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