Congregation B’nai B’rith will celebrate Mitzvah Day — “A Day of Giving” — with 10 community projects Sunday morning in Santa Barbara.
The congregation invites the community to participate in the goodwill efforts.
“One of the core values of Judaism is ‘tikkun olam,’ a Jewish concept defined by acts of kindness performed to perfect or repair the world,” Elizabeth Gaynes, the congregation’s executive director, told the News-Press. “Congregation B’nai B’rith is a diverse, inclusive community of individuals and families building together a warm and vibrant house of living Judaism,”
“Mitzvah Day is CBB’s annual community-wide day of service. People of all ages come together for a morning filled with good work helping others,” said Ms. Gaynes.
“A Day of Giving to Benefit the Community” will take place at the congregation, 1000 San Antonio Creek Road, Santa Barbara. The doors will open at 9 a.m. Sunday, and breakfast will be available. The event will begin with a welcome address at 9:30. Then 10 projects will be completed from 10 a.m. to noon.
Ms. Gaynes said the first Mitzvah Day took place in 2005 and that the congregation has held another 14 Mitzvah Days since then.
“The annual day of service has expanded to Tikkun Olam Initiatives that happen all year long, as well as many Mitzvah projects as part of the school curriculum,” she added. “Mitzvah Day is a great way to get a taste of community service work, to do this work together, and to learn more about our local nonprofit partners here in Santa Barbara and around the world for ongoing volunteer connections.”
“Participation on Mitzvah Day ranges from our youngest preschoolers to the elders of our community, and the best part is that we work side by side, together.,” said Ms. Gaynes. “Especially during this time of increased isolation, Mitzvah Day gives us a good and important reason to come together — in service of others.”
To make the 10 community projects possible, Congregation B’nai B’rith is working with many local nonprofits. The projects will be completed Sunday morning at the congregation’s site on San Antonio Road as well at two offsite locations.
Among the projects is one that supports Ukrainian soldiers. “We are supporting soldiers in Lviv, Ukraine, by collecting and sending cold weather gear and medical supplies, as well as writing notes of support for the troops,” said Ms. Gaynes.
The News-Press asked Ms. Gaynes about how this community day got started.
“This is actually a very personal story,” she explained. “Rabbi Steve Cohen approached me many, many years ago, when my children were attending the education programs at CBB, with a volunteer leadership opportunity. Together we worked to create the very first Mitzvah Day at CBB in 2005. That chair role was my introduction to volunteer service and leadership at our synagogue, and was a pivotal moment in the congregation’s history.
“That first year was one of the single largest gatherings in the temple’s history, and began a wonderful and lasting tradition,” Ms. Gaynes continued. “The experience led me to volunteer for several positions on the board and then eventually to move into my current role as executive director. It has been one of my great pleasures to see the tradition continue under the talent of so many of our volunteer leaders. What is even better is that the good work of repairing the world happens year round and is a major priority for our community.”
These projects will be completed at the congregation site:
— Supporting Ukraine: People will write notes of support and love to Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines, and/or support the Lviv Medical Volunteers, who urgently need items for the soldiers. A local Santa Barbara family is shipping these items to Lviv, and a wish list is at cbbsb.org/mitzvah. Among the desired items are medications, bandages, sleeping bags, fleece jackets and tactical boots.
— Blood Donation: People can donate blood and help replenish the local banks through Vitalant.
—The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation: Participants will create festive snowmen candy bars to give to children fighting cancer in time for their holiday party.
— Lunch for the Hungry: Assemble lunch bags and basic needs items to be delivered to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. Completed bags will be distributed at the temple’s Wednesday Neighborhood Navigation Center at the Rescue Mission.
— Scrap-booking for Dreamers: The Dream Foundation serves terminally ill adults and their families by making end-of-life dreams come true. Volunteers are being sought Sunday to create beautiful scrapbook pages as a memento for families.
— Animal Mitzvah: People will make treats, toys and warmers for animals in the local shelters.
— Hanukkah Treats for Seniors: Participants will assemble Hanukkah candles and treats for our seniors at local retirement homes.
— Operation Gratitude: OG is a nationwide nonprofit providing Americans with opportunities to honor our military. Those participating make paracord bracelets that are added to care packages and have proven to be life-saving.
— Tree gleaning: You can join nature lovers to glean trees at private homes and donate the produce to local food charities.
— Instant Choir: Vocalists are being asked to join Cantor Mark Childs for a visit to Vista Del Monte Retirement Community to share Hanukkah music and other Jewish songs.