Stanmore & Canons Park Synagogue may have done Mitzvah Day differently this year due to COVID restrictions but as ever, it was still stacked with a wealth of activities for the entire community to be involved in.
In the morning, four Collectathons took place, where members donated to:
· Watford New Hope Trust: Clothes for the homeless;
· GIFT: Food for needy families in the community;
· Camp Simcha: Toys to keep those children in hospital entertained as many hospital playrooms are currently shut;
· Against Breast Cancer: New and second-hand bras and old mobile phones.
Members of the community offered their houses as drop-off points, to ensure that all activities complied with COVID guidelines.
The whole community was subsequently invited to AJEX’s 85th Annual Ceremony and Parade. Stanmore has always had a large contingent attending the parade and this year everyone ‘zoomed in’ from their homes to participate in this important event.
Stanmore usually hosts a fabulous Tea for the seniors, but this year, and in true COVID-style, SACPS brought the kehilla together for its Big Community Tea Party. There was wonderful musical entertainment from renowned local professional pianist (and maestro!), Josh Nesbitt and we were honoured to be joined by Bob Blackman, MP, Georgina Bye, Chief Exec of Mitzvah Day and residents from the housing association, Jliving.
Younger members of the community had their own Mitzvah Day activities. They decorated bags for NHS key workers, which were then filled with snacks and toiletries to thank those essential workers for everything they have done for the wider community.
They also planted daffodil bulbs in wellies to be part of a display in the Shul’s gardens when the synagogue reopens.
The Youth were privileged to speak to a lone soldier who grew up in Stanmore and is currently serving in the Israeli Defence Forces, and were asked to create a card or write a letter to lone soldiers as part of SACPS’ ongoing Mitzvah Day activities.
The Stanmore Knitters knitted hats and bonding squares which will be donated to Northwick Park Hospital’s Neo Natal Unit.
The community has also been challenged with its own Stanmore Big Mitzvah All Day, where members were asked to choose from a selection of Mitzvahs and then post them on the shul’s Facebook page, with a description of what they have done – anything went, as long as it was a Mitzvah – from washing your family car, gardening for a grandparent, baking for a neighbour, getting in touch with a senior, offering to do shopping, give a computer lesson, internet lesson or zoom lesson or even start writing to someone. It was all about people thinking about others.
Juliette Harris, Organiser of Mitzvah Day activities at SACPS commented, “Although this year has presented its challenges, this was not going to stop us in Stanmore. We were proud to have organised a day of COVID-secure activities that will help those in the wider community, whilst enabling us to come together virtually in a meaningful way. We are extremely grateful to the many people who gave up their time and appreciate everyone’s help and assistance in making this initiative a truly communal event for Stanmore Shul. Mitzvah Day has a firm place in our calendar and our hearts, and we relish making our contribution in any way we can.”