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 2020 - Sunday, October 25

Join us for Mitzvah Day on Sunday, October 25! 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. Masks must be worn for all in-person projects, and proper distancing is required.

Outcomes from Mitzvah Day 2019

Thanks to Mitzvah Day co-chairs Jon Polon, Donna Shimshi, and Geoff and Jodi Chesman, Beth El had another phenomenal annual day of service in which about 500 congregants helped people in need in our community and throughout the world. We are delighted to share our project outcomes with you. Several projects below will continue throughout the year. The high turnout, enthusiasm, and energy on Mitzvah Day demonstrates that Tikkun Olam is a core value of Beth El. Get involved and join us!

  • Rabbi Werbin led a bus of Beth El members to the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA to provide support to the congregation and survivors on the first anniversary of the tragedy.
  • Richard Lieberman and his volunteers reached an all-time record by collecting 84 bicycles to send to underdeveloped countries through Bikes for the World. They also collected a trailer, various bike parts, and five helmets.
  • 50+ Beth El preschoolers and their parents made approximately 350 snack bags for the Children’s Inn at NIH. BEPS families donated 1,400 individually wrapped snack items.  Angela Lipshutz and Carly Silver led this project with volunteers from the BEPS Tzedakah Committee: Kim Harris, Erin Katz, and Ari Gerstle.  BEPS holds numerous social action projects per year. All congregants are welcome to contribute to the year-round projects. Stay tuned for more information.
  • Maddie Friedman collected several large bins of sporting equipment for Level the Playing Field.
  • Erika Dickstein collected 270 bras and 4,300 feminine hygiene products for homeless women through Support the Girls.
  • Jack Ventura led the INOVA Blood Drive project with help from 15 volunteers and 53 congregants who donated 45 pints of life-saving blood. If you didn’t have a chance to donate this time, you’ll still have a chance. Jack and Jonathan Simon hold three to four blood drives at Beth El throughout the year.
  • Heather Janssen’s team of 18 Zhava & Sisterhood Crafters knitted and crocheted more than 30 washcloths for those in need at Greentree Shelter. The team of crafters will continue making and donating more throughout the year!
  • The Shimshi family and friends raised $105 for the Feline Foundation of Greater Washington by selling lemonade to the Mitzvah Day volunteers.
  • Jonathan Epstein and the Beth El Men’s Club sold pizza to Mitzvah Day volunteers. The proceeds went to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF).
  • Alana AroninMara Greengrass and 27 volunteers collected and sorted 82 bags of gently used clothing for the Interfaith Clothing Center to help those in need. Beth El Sisterhood sponsored this program.
  • Sheryl Miller, Fran Katz Watson, and  Carolyn Lodish collected and sorted 9 large bags of 100 adult’s and 65 children’s coats that HIAS will distribute to refugee families to enable them to say warm during the winter months..
  • Jodi Chesman and Rebecca Blitstein led Zhava’s family project to benefit sick children at the Children’s Hospital National Medical Center by collecting and delivering over 100 new toys and 70 handmade cards.
  • Deborah Wassertzug led 45 congregants (adults & children) who packed 389 snack bags to enable low-income schoolchildren to receive healthy food on the weekend through the Capital Area Food Bank.
  • Danielle Miller Wagner led 38 Sisterhood members who cooked 38  arge casseroles, 300 servings of dessert, and donated 7 bags of fruit to homeless shelters in our area. Sisterhood holds many other social action projects throughout the year.
  • Jennifer Odintz educated congregants about Organ Donation through Donate Life.
  • Erika Bennett, Rebecca Bennett, and their volunteers created 225 Survival Kits for the homeless in our area. The kits contained food, water, hand warmers, antibacterial wipes, socks, gloves, and cards.
  • Jazz singer Julie Mack delighted 45 elderly residents, family members, and staff at the Ring House, which is part of the Charles E. Smith Life Communities (CESLC).
  • Marak Hayom, Beth El’s Teen A Capella Group, performed beautiful songs for the elderly residents of the Revitz House, part of the CESLC.
  • The Cabin John Dixieland Band led by Jerry Danoff performed Jewish music and 1940’s hits for the elderly residents at the Hebrew Home, part of the CESLC.
  • Beth El Members filled approximately ⅔ of a large truck with furniture, linens, household items, and toys to donate to A Wider Circle led by Allison Goldstein-Winoker.
  • Beth El Religious School Projects:
  • Kindergarten made three pounds of dog biscuits and donated 14 towels to an area animal shelter.
    • 1st graders made more than 50 cards and gift bags for hospitalized children to be distributed by Bikur Cholim of Greater Washington.
    • 2nd grade made 300 servings of apple crisps for Shepherd’s Table.
    • 3rd grade made 45 packages for The Children’s Inn at NIH.
    • 4th grade made 49 Blessings Bags.
    • 5th grade made 40-45 jigsaw puzzles and cards to send to Hadassah Hospital in Israel.
  • Beth El Youth Group Projects: 
    • 29 Bonim K-2nd Graders made thoughtful treasures and cards for the kids at the NIH Children’s Inn.
    • 14 Machar 3rd-5th Graders made seven large fleece tie blankets for Martha’s Table.
    • Over 100 MCPS Student Service Learning (SSL) hours were approved.
    • The Youth Groups hold other social action programs throughout the year. Look for the announcements!
  • Doris Povich, co-chair of the Beth El Senior Caucus, collected 163 2020 calendars to be distributed to residents at the Hebrew Home. This project is ongoing all year. Please drop off calendars in the synagogue office.
  • Naomi Greenwood educated over 20 congregants about the services provided by Kesher Nashim Women’s Cancer Connection. Sisterhood members Shayna Boom, Marilda Averbug and Judith Spector assisted Naomi.
  • Elisa Rappaport collected a half a ton of Electronics from congregants to be recycled, saving them from ending up in a landfill.
  • Thank you to Mitchell Solkowitz and Emily Koo for taking photos during Mitzvah Day.