The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
Mishpacha Mitzvah Missions (M3)
Apr. 1, 2009
Hands-on service opportunities for families that include a strong educational component.
Community Contact Information:
Temple Beth Elohim
Mishpacha Mitzvah Missions creates hands-on service opportunities for whole families. Each project includes an educational component to teach about the organizations and people being served. Over 100 families have taken action on issues of hunger, homelessness, civic participation, disabled youth, conservation, sacred aging and more.
The congregation holds an annual Mitzvah Day that reaches directly into the community. However, they were concerned that families with children age 3-12 were not being engaged. Parents wanted to be able to model social action for their children, to engage them in the work, to instill, at the earliest age, the value of helping others, of mending the world.
Mishpacha Mitzvah Missions was created by lay leaders seeking deeper learning and ongoing action for families in the congregation. The founders, with the help of the synagogue’s family educator, built a calendar of five events. The programs were designed to expose congregants to local organizations doing good work within the community, develop partnerships with agencies and communal organizations that could manage young volunteers and provide exposure to a variety of community needs. The first year of programming was a pilot to gauge interest in and viability of this program. Its potential was clear from the start.
Volunteers lead individual programs, with the assistance of the core group of founders and educators. This lay leadership team has proven to be essential to M3’s successful growth. The meetings are highly productive and task oriented, with lay leaders taking on specific roles to ensure the success of each event. Both the events (including learning, community engagement and program implementation) and M3 structure (including leadership development and ongoing operation) can be replicated and adapted for different congregations.
A year of house meetings, working from the model of Just Congregations, yielded several key social justice initiatives related to the passions and interests of congregants.
The synagogue advertised the program in the bulletin and through electronic communications, As participation grew, they built an e-mail list of 200 families who have participated in our programs to advertise and communicate about upcoming events. They partnered with the religious school and youth groups to communicate with parents.
Every M3 program is developed with the following framework:
The program has made social action central to congregational life and created deeper relationships with the organizations and constituencies being supported. Congregants of all ages are engaged in action and study, community service grounded in Torah.
While M3 is direct service oriented, it is ultimately a gateway to other engagement in social justice work. M3 provides families with young children the concrete social justice experiences and learning that will empower them to take action in new ways as they grow.
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