Temple Beth-El of Great Neck
5 Old Mill Road
Great Neck, New York 11023
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Mitzvah Days have become a staple of congregational social action programs. While a one-day event is in itself hardly an adequate response to the claims of a serious commitment to social action and social justice, such programs are often the prelude to more elaborate and sustained efforts.
Mitzvah Day at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck involves some 500-600 volunteers working on 50 different projects, which range from sorting school supplies for the after-school program for Ethiopian Jewish children in Israel to working at homes for people with learning/developmental disabilities. Among the projects is a "Mitzvah Day Carnival," in which 20 volunteers from the congregation provide suitable activities such as crafts and games for children between the ages of three and twelve who have special needs. These include cancer, Down's Syndrome, children of recent immigrants from Latin America, and other children for whom the Carnival is a most welcome diversion.
Half the Carnival volunteers are themselves between the ages of 12 and 16, and for most of them, the Carnival is an introduction to a world very different from their own. And the congregation, through its work in preparing the Carnival together with the community agencies, has identified an array of needs that have been translated into other Mitzvah Day projects.
The humble kindness of the Carnival is deceptive. As the father of one Down's Syndrome child who participated in last year's Carnival wrote to the chairs of the Mitzvah Day program, " . . . a quick note of thanks is just not enough . . . I could not believe the generosity and understanding I observed today. The kindness and compassion that was given to my son and all the children will be talked about for years to come." Sometimes, the most rudimentary acts of reaching out are remarkably powerful and productive.
The Fain Award is presented to Temple Beth-El of Great Neck in recognition and appreciation of its exemplary efforts on behalf of especially vulnerable children.
Click here to return to the 1999 Fain Award winners
Is your congregation looking for more ways to reach out to the community? Check out the Religious Action Center Program Bank.