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Mitzvah Day volunteers help tackle isolation in Redbridge

10:43 01 December 2016

Rabbi Richard Jacobi and the congregation at Woodford Liberal Synagogue on Mitzvah Day.

Rabbi Richard Jacobi and the congregation at Woodford Liberal Synagogue on Mitzvah Day.

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In line with this year’s Mitzvah Day theme of building bridges, members of a synagogue have been making strides towards tackling isolation within their community.

Rabbi Richard Jacobi with residents having tea and cakes for Mitzvah Day.Rabbi Richard Jacobi with residents having tea and cakes for Mitzvah Day.

On Saturday the Woodford Liberal Synagogue, in Marlborough Road, South Woodford, hosted a musical service with Keshet, a Jewish LGBT+ organisation.

Children dressed in rainbow coloured clothing in a show of solidarity between the groups.

On Sunday – Mitzvah Day itself – more than 50 members of the synagogue helped organise a tea dance for elderly citizens, offering them a chance to socialise and enjoy some entertainment for the afternoon.

Rabbi Richard Jacobi said the synagogue wanted to promote inclusiveness for those often excluded from society as part of their Mitzvah.

Rachel Kamall with Isaac, and his Jack Petchey award, on Mitzvah Day.Rachel Kamall with Isaac, and his Jack Petchey award, on Mitzvah Day.

“In our case we looked at the LGBT groups that can be isolated and excluded,” said Rabbi Jacobi.

“We discussed that and the ways we can be more inclusive and celebrate a diverse people more of the time.

“On Sunday we brought in some of the elderly citizens ensuring they had a social time and some entertainment and food and to teach people about what is going on in their life.

“I think Mitzvah has been a very positive experience again. We are already thinking about next year’s day.”

Children painting rainbow pots for Mitzvah Day at Woodford Liberal Synagogue.Children painting rainbow pots for Mitzvah Day at Woodford Liberal Synagogue.

Rabbi Jacobi thanked all the volunteers but stressed that the real message of Mitzvah is that we should be doing good deeds for others everyday of the year.

“It is a wonderful thing to be witnessing and to be seeing people doing that with a smile on their face,” he added.

“However it is not just one day a year, it is 365 days a year. I hope it becomes habit forming for people to be doing it.”

One of the volunteers, Merle Muswell, added: “I think it is a fulfilling thing and I think it shows cohesion in the area.”

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