Mitzvah Day

While Beth El has an abundance of community service projects year round, our annual Mitzvah Day is our largest and most impactful social action event of the year. Every October, our congregation mobilizes its membership, and springs into action, by performing an amazing array of meaningful community service projects, as well as holding monumental collection efforts — all occurring on the very same day.

Collectively, we engage in a concerted effort to improve the quality of thousands of lives of those in need our community, Israel, and worldwide.

“Tzedakah and acts of kindness to others are the equivalent to all of the mitzvot in the Torah.”  

Jerusalem Talmud, Pe’ah 1:1.


Mitzvah Day 2022

Join us for Mitzvah Day on Sunday, October 30! Help us help those in need in our community and beyond. Donate items and sign up for a project by contacting the captain of the project of your choice. For other info, contact chairs Jon Polon jonpolon@hotmail.com or 917-543-0118, Donna Shimshi donnashimshi@gmail.com or 240-731-1731. Projects may qualify for SSL hours. Beth El’s Mitzvah Day is underwritten by our Sondra Bender Community Service Fund

Stay tuned for more information, including a list of projects available this year!


Outcomes from Mitzvah Day 2020

A worldwide pandemic (and a very rainy day) did not deter Beth El from participating in our annual Mitzvah Day, despite the enormous challenges we faced due to Covid-19. Thank you to our extraordinary co-chairs Jon Polon, Donna Shimshi and Geoff Chesman for coordinating Mitzvah Day under extremely difficult conditions The co-chairs reinvented Mitzvah Day to ensure  proper protocols, physical distancing, and contactless, outdoor programs to keep our members safe.  Jon, Donna and Geoff’s leadership surpassed our expectations.  We also thank all of our innovative project captains who led impactful social action collections and programs. Our congregants’ generous contributions to Mitzvah Day underscore that Tikkun Olam is a core value at Beth El. Below are the outcomes that will help those in need in our community and beyond:

  • Rebecca  Bennett and her daughter Erika received over 500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from congregants, and delivered them to those in need at  Martha’s Table.
  • Alana Aronin captained a project in which 95 Beth El members dropped off car loads of  housewares and clothing through  Interfaith Works Clothing Center (IWCC). Six congregants volunteered to  help fill the IWCC truck to capacity.
  • Jack Ventura and Jonathan Simon did a tremendous job leading the INOVA Blood Drive under difficult circumstances due to Covid-19.  An impressive 35 donors signed up and INOVA collectected 30 pints of blood to save 90 patients’ lives!
  • Erika Dickstein and Wendi Sager collected 8,,032 bras and sanitary products, plus $775 to donate to the nonprofit, Support The Girls, which enables women in need to receive these necessities.
  • Howie Stein and Josh Rosenstein collected expired or no longer needed prescription drugs for National Drug Takeback Day. Forty congregants donated medicine, which Men’sClub volunteers turned over to the Bethesda Police Station and the CVS pharmacy in Kensington.
  • Donna Shimshi loaded her minivan to capacity with toys, games, a mattress, a television, and housewares that she dropped off at A Wider Circle.
  • She also delivered six large boxes of books to Friends of the Library Bookstore.
  • Despite the rain which prevented collecting bikes at Beth El, Richard LIeberman obtained more than 17 bicycles and $140, which he donated to Bikes for the World.
  • Danielle Miller Wagner led Beth El Sisterhood’s project to help food-insecure families in our area. Thirty-eight congregants prepared and delivered food to Interfaith Women’s Shelter and Shepherd’s Table, including 47 healthy casseroles, (436 servings), 56 servings of dessert, 38 bags of fruits and vegetables, baby formula, canned goods, trail mix, powdered drink mix, and waffles.
  • Stacey Topol collected about 25  “thank you” cards, letters, and pictures that will be sent to soldiers serving in Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
  • Shelley Ducker led a project to collect pens, pencils, and markers that will be donated overseas for children in need of school supplies.
  • Rebecca Blitstein and Allison Fishkind led Zhava’s project to benefit sick children at the Children’s National Hospital. Members donated 100 new toys, games, and handmade cards to hospitalized children.
  • Heather Janssen organized a Zoom activity with 16 Zhava and Sisterhood members who knitted and crocheted squares to create blankets for those in need. They made 33 squares so far, with more on the way.
  • Approximately 20 families participated in Beth El Religious School’s projects, including making peanut butter sandwiches for Martha’s Table, creating cards for soldiers and residents at Maplewood, an assisted living facility, and donating towels and dog biscuits for animals in shelters.
  • Doris Povich led the Senior Caucus’ project to collect calendars for residents at the  Charles E. Smith Life Communities to enable residents in the Hebrew Home to stay oriented to the days of the week. Congregants donated over 220 calendars.
  • Maddy Friedman collected a box of essential self-care items through Comfort Cases,  which provides backpacks of supplies for children and teens in foster care.
  • BEPS and Beth El ’s Youth Groups led productive projects. Final results are pending.

Many thanks to Lisa Silverman and Card On Your Yard for the beautiful Mitzvah Day sign that greeted participants when they arrived at Beth El!

Thank you again the phenomenal  project captains and Mitzvah Day co-chairs, Donna Shimshi, Jon Polon and Geoff Chesman.  We greatly appreciated Tiarra Joslyn’s hard work creating an online registration process and publicity, materials.