Many hands make light work on Mitzvah Day

Posted by on 20 November 2012 | 0 Comments

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A massive thank you to the fantastic group of Mitzvah Day volunteers who rolled up their sleeves and got digging at Equinox Southampton Way last weekend. The 7-strong team all work at the Union of Jewish Students (the umbrella body for around 40 university Jewish societies). They gave their time, energy and a good dose of humour on Sunday 18th November, Mitzvah Day International, to kick start the gardening project at Equinox Southampton Way.

What is Mitzvah Day?

The Mitzvah Day International website explains:  "Mitzvah Day is a Jewish led day of social action. On Mitzvah Day, around the world, thousands of people take part in hands on projects, without fundraising, to support charities and to build stronger communities. Mitzvah Day is based on the Jewish values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedek (righteousness) and gemilut chassadim (acts of lovingkindness)."

UJS Communications Director, Charlotte Karp, said: “Mitzvah means a good deed, which is integral to Judaism and as a Jewish organisation, UJS feel it's essential to get involved in social action."

Preparing the ground

Service users at Equinox Southampton Way, a care home for men with enduring mental ill health in South East London, decided to create their own vegetable garden, to grow a range of fruit and vegetables for use in dinners cooked by the on site chef. As part of the Equinox Personalisation Strategy, there is a commitment that Equinox will help service users to enjoy life more.

The Mitzvah Day team helped to prepare the ground for the vegetable patch, digging up and turning over the soil, pulling out dead tree roots, cutting back dead shrubs – taking care to avoid earthworms along the way!

The next stage of the project will involve wooden pallets donated by B&Q on Old Kent Road being brought in to create the vegetable boxes. Equinox Southampton Way are actively seeking donations of topsoil, labour and transport to help fill these boxes, to be planted in early Spring 2013.

UJS President, Alex Green, said: "It is great to see the results with Equinox service users and it’s been a real privilege to take part in the gardening project."

Service Manager of Equinox Southampton Way, Agnes Athieno, said: "I am really grateful to the UJS Mitzvah Day team today. What we are doing today is one of a number of creative projects to help our service users take their minds off their mental illness. Other activities we are doing in 2012-2013 include cookery, music and art workshops. There is even talk of keeping chickens!"

The Mitzvah Day volunteers from UJS also shared with us a parev meal, which means it contained neither milk nor meat. They explained to us that in the Jewish tradition means that you can eat milk or meat after having this meal. We ate falafel, houmous, fresh pitta, aubergine dip, tomato dip and red cabbage dip.

Thank you to Helen Fitton and the team at Mitzvah Day International for supporting the Equinox garden project.  And once again, a big thank you to Alex Green, Georgina Bye, Matt Blom, Ben Salamon, Sheryl Gold, Charlotte Karp and Amanda Shoffman from the Union of Jewish Students - your green-fingered contribution to Equinox on Mitzvah Day was fantastic!

Read the UJS blog here about their day with us at Equinox Southampton Way. 

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