Each week, The Jewish Federation and EDCJCC offer ideas for Mitzvah Mondays, social action projects around a Jewish value, with activities you can do at home that will impact the community. Check them out each week on Facebook! We will post the archive here for easy reference at any time!
Today’s #MitzvahMonday theme is hazan et hakol (providing food for all), and families who attended our Pick with PJ programs did this mitzvah yesterday! Each family attending our Sukkot apple picking event gave some of their apples to be donated to a local food bank, @mannafoodcenter.
LEARN: Learn more about this Jewish value from our Federation “Judaism Values…” page.
DO: Donate to your local food bank, and get your kids involved in a collection or making items. Research the recipient organization first to see what they need and will accept. Find one on our Jconnections page.
REFLECT: How can your family help the hungry while preserving their dignity? There is enough food in the world; the issue is fair distribution. How can we make a more just system of food production/distribution?
Today’s #MitzvahMonday theme is l’dor v’dor (from generation to generation), and we are asking families to make connections to older generations in two ways:
LEARN: Learn more about this Jewish value and how to pass on family connections and traditions from PJ Library.
DO: Write a letter to or schedule a video call with an older loved one, helping your child as needed. You can also connect with @Loveforourelders and write to one of their August letter requesters. Learn more.
REFLECT: How do you think your recipient felt when they received your phone call or letter? How did it make you feel to initiate it? Why might it be important to connect with an elder, during the pandemic and beyond?
This week’s #MitzvahMonday theme is Sukkat Shalom (providing peaceful shelter). At bedtime, your children and children experiencing homelessness share in common a need for a warm blanket, a good book, and a cozy stuffed lovey. To help make sure that children experiencing homelessness have these things, Project Night Night creates care packages with new blankets, stuffed animals, and books for the child (birth through pre-teen) to call their own. These “childhood essentials [provide] a concrete and predictable source of security and increased exposure to high-quality literacy materials during this time of upheaval” (ProjectNightNight.com).
LEARN: On any given night, over 100,000 children will experience homelessness. Family homelessness often goes unseen as most do not live on the street; instead they may be transient, living in shelters, in cars, in hotels in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, or staying with friends or family members.
REFLECT: What special items help you to fall asleep at night? Why might these items be important to a child who does not have a home of their own? What would it feel like to not have them? What else could be helpful for a family experiencing homelessness?
It’s #MitzvahMonday! This week’s theme is Chinkukh (education). Although it’s still very hot outside, many organizations working with families who are experiencing homelessness or economic hardship are already starting to get ready for the new school year. This week, the @Edcjcc and @PJL are joining in to help @Community of Hope with their school supplies drive and we hope you’ll participate!
LEARN: Educational outcomes vary greatly depending on where you live and what your socioeconomic background is. Although our public education system is supposed to serve everyone equally, folks who experience economic hardship are unfortunately not always able to afford the tools their children need to succeed in school, including basic tools like school supplies. The pandemic and the loss of jobs it brought has further exacerbated many of these challenges.
DO: As schools prepare to reopen this fall, we want to help students served by our close partner organization, Community of Hope, get a head start with the proper school supplies they need. We need your help to create packed zipper pouches/pencil boxes filled with the essential items. Sign up to help out.
REFLECT: What is it like to start a new school year? What feelings do you usually have about it? Do you get excited about new school supplies or clothing? How might the recipients feel to have these now, too?
This week’s double-theme is Hazan et Hakol (providing food for all) and Shomrei Adamah (partners in creation). Mid-summer is the perfect time to volunteer in a community garden – grab your family and spend a few hours weeding, watering, and harvesting at the GW GRoW Garden!
LEARN: The GW GRoW Garden is a student-led effort that uses volunteer hands to grow tons of vegetables that are donated to Miriam’s Kitchen, one of the few agencies in Foggy Bottom that provides critical services to folks experiencing homelessness. The produce grown at the GW GRoW Garden enables Miriam’s Kitchen to serve a more nutritious and vitamin-rich menu every day!
DO: Sign up for a Sunday or Tuesday (5-6 pm) volunteer shift – children are welcome! Email email@example.com to sign up to volunteer, or find each week’s sign-up via the tabs on the bottom of the Google spreadsheet.
REFLECT: How does growing fresh veggies help people who do not have a permanent home of their own? Why is it better to grow veggies on the GW campus and deliver them to Miriam’s Kitchen just a few blocks away rather than buying them from the grocery store? Where do the veggies at the grocery store come from and how do they get there?
Our theme is Kehilla (“community,” or connection/belonging). This weekend, we celebrated our country’s birthday with lots of joy, fireworks, parades, and cookouts. But America–the country we know and love today–did not emerge fully formed on July 4, 1776. This week, we encourage you to talk to your children about the multitude of diverse stories — Native American, African American, immigrant, refugee, and others — that make up the tapestry of our country and how they are part of America’s story.
LEARN: Read this great blog from our own Sarah Rabin Spira and consider this topic further.
DO and REFLECT: Share your family’s story with your children, including when and how your family became part of America’s collective history. Discuss with your children the idea that only Native American people were here before we gained independence, and that everyone else – even if they have been here for many, many generations – was at one point an immigrant and newcomer. If you feel that your children are old enough, consider also discussing that many African Americans were brought here against their will as enslaved people, so celebrating freedom and independence may mean something very different for their descendants.
This week’s theme is Shomrei Adamah (caring for the environment), and we invite your family to put this into practice by starting a compost bin.
LEARN: Why compost? Every day, the average American generates roughly four and a half pounds of waste – that’s about 1,600 pounds per year per person. Over half of this waste (about 53%) is sent to a landfill where it breaks down in a way that makes greenhouse gases. Food scraps account for the largest single component in landfills. Reducing our waste is therefore extremely important – it helps curb climate change and reduces landfills.
DO: The DMV is a great place to compost. There are a variety of options for you to easily manage composting whether you live in a high-rise or an individual family home. You can always start your own compost pile if you have a backyard.
Don’t have a backyard? You can drop off your compost on a weekly basis at several different locations around the city, including several farmers markets! Want to make it even easier? Check out a service like Compost Cab and they can do it all for you!
REFLECT: What are some ways we can prevent food waste? Why would it be important to do so?
This week’s #MitzvahMonday theme is Adam Yachid (each person is unique). Judaism teaches that each person is special and to be valued. This is one of the many Jewish values that can be applied to Pride Month, not just on Mondays.
LEARN: PJ Library has compiled a list of books that celebrate all types of families. Some are PJ books, some are by PJ authors, and some are what’s on the bookshelves of PJ staff.
DO: Take your family on a tour of Paint the Town Colorful, a project of Capital Pride. There are dozens of places decorated to promote joy, unity and PRIDE, including Hill Havurah! Talk about how the displays make you feel and why the visibility of these rainbows is important for the LGBTQIA+ community and for our community as a whole.
REFLECT: What makes a family a family? How can we show support as a family for all kinds of families?
It’s #MitzvahMonday! Every week, we’re offering you a way to get involved, give back, and do mitzvot. June is Immigrant Heritage Month, so this week’s theme is Kehilla (community). Together with your family, learn about and support immigrants in the DC area. It’s easy and delicious!
LEARN: Did you know that one in seven DC residents is an immigrant, while about one in nine residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent? Immigrants are not only a vital part of our economy but add to the richness of DC’s food, music, and arts scenes. Learn more.
DO: We invite you to try something delicious from Foodhini, a social enterprise restaurant and catering business that employs incredible immigrant and refugee chefs and shares their stories or Immigrant Food, which similarly employs and celebrates immigrants and their cuisines. Outside of supporting immigrant and refugee-owned restaurants, check out Homes Not Borders, which furnishes apartments for incoming refugee families and runs a shop where refugee artisans create beautiful home goods.
REFLECT: Where is your family originally from, when did they arrive in the US, and how did they get here? What parts of Judaism (and what holiday in particular) teach us about welcoming people who are strangers to us into our community? Why is it important to welcome people different from us into our country and our neighborhood?
It’s #MitzvahMonday! Every week, we’re offering you a way to get involved, give back, and do mitzvot. This week’s theme is Bikur Cholim (bringing comfort to the sick). Get your family together and make a delicious and nutritious meal for clients at Joseph’s House.
LEARN: Joseph’s House creates a welcoming community and provides comprehensive nursing and support services to men and women experiencing homelessness with advanced HIV disease and terminal cancer including hospice services.
DO: Sign up for an evening, cook a delicious meal following the basic guidelines provided by Joseph’s House staff, and deliver the meal to Joseph’s House between 5:00 and 5:45 PM on the evening you chose. Sign up for meal.
REFLECT: What might it be like to be very sick and not have a home?
It’s #MitzvahMonday on Memorial Day! That means that our theme this week is supporting our troops; the Jewish value for this is Kavod (to honor or respect). Gather your family and support Operation Gratitude through a hands-on effort at home.
Today is the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. Judaism teaches us about the sanctity of every human life through the value of B’etzelem Elohim (“We are all created in the Divine image”), and today we encourage you to start a conversation with your children about the racism that is embedded in every part of our lives and how it affects People of Color every day.
To help you get started, here are some book suggestions. This list from Brightly has suggestions for all age ranges, and you can filter by your child’s age. We particularly love reading Anti-Racist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi and Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester with our own kids.
We also encourage you to visit Talking About Race, a new online portal from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which provides tools and guidance to help families talk about racism, racial identity, and the ways they shape American culture. Click here for resources to start these conversations today.
DO: Read one or more of these books with your children to start the conversation, no matter how old they are. Find additional resources through Be’chol Lashon.
REFLECT: Although racism is a complex concept, children notice and begin absorbing messages about race as early as infancy. A “color-blind” approach to race has also been proven to produce more rather than less discrimination and racism. Reflect on differences in how people look with your children. What are some ways that we are different and what are some ways we are the same? How are different people beautiful in different ways? How might people be treated differently if they look different from white people? When we see something that’s unfair, what are ways that we can speak up to change that? (adapted from PBSkids)
It’s #MitzvahMonday on a Sunday! Tonight the holiday of Shavuot begins at sundown, and in the Book of Ruth (read during the holiday), we learn of the ritual of sharing the harvest with those who would otherwise not have food to eat. The Jewish value for this is Hazan et Hakol (providing food for all). To help us consider the themes of the holiday, we encourage you to gather your family and make trail mix for clients at So Others Might Eat (SOME).
LEARN: Learn more at some.org
DO: Make trail mix folks experiencing food insecurity and donate them to SOME. Here’s how to get started.
REFLECT: In what other ways can our family help the hungry while preserving the dignity of those in need? How can we make sure that the food we have does not go to waste?
This week’s theme is Gemilut Chasadim (Acts of Kindness). Gather your family and make graduation cards for young clients at Community of Hope. Here is how to get started: http://bit.ly/COH-cards
LEARN: Community of Hope helps Washingtonians who are experiencing homelessness or in danger of it, providing transitional housing, access to healthcare, and training, plus working to make systemic change. Learn more at communityofhopedc.org
DO: Make graduation cards to congratulate children and teens on their accomplishments in finished kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade, and 12th grade!
REFLECT: How has not being able to go to school and celebrate big accomplishments together affected us? Have you ever done something really awesome that wasn’t recognized and how did that feel? What do you think it’s like to be a kid but not be able to have your own home?
It’s Mitzvah Monday! Every week, we’re offering you a way to get involved, give back, and do mitzvot (in this context, “good deeds”). This week’s theme is Shomrei Adamah (caring for the environment). Gather your family and plant native pollinator plants in your garden/patio if you have one. Here are some ideas to get you started.
LEARN: Who are native pollinators and why are they important?
DO: Include some native pollinator plants on your deck, balcony, or garden!
REFLECT: Did we contribute to a greater good? How? If we were to continue this type of service in the future, could we make an even larger impact? How could we learn more?
This initiative is a collaboration of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Edlavitch DCJCC and PJ Library in Greater Washington.