JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Saturday marked Mitzvah Day for the members of the Congregation Ahavath Chesed in Jacksonville’s Goodby’s Creek neighborhood.
Mitzvah Day is a day when Jewish people are commanded to partner with God to make the world a better place.
Members of the congregation, the oldest in the state of Florida, are continuing a 20-year tradition by reaching out into the community to make improvements.
“We are excited about this,” senior rabbi Rick Shapiro said. “This has become a major focus of many congregations around the U.S., and we are proud to be a part of the tradition.”
The volunteers met at the Temple at 9 a.m. before embarking on the first of their 12 projects around the city.
News4Jax went to the Sulzbacher Center to speak with volunteers who were cleaning up and organizing clothes for incoming residents.
“One of the important tenants of Judaism, not that I'm an expert, is social action,” Temple member Mike Elkin said. “We are all about social action throughout the year. We volunteer around town and other goodwill-type places.”
Volunteers said there are plenty of ways to help, and they hope their efforts inspire the Jacksonville community as a whole to give back and make our world a better place.
“There are a lot of folks in need,” said. “They are hungry. They are homeless -- whatever the deal is -- it's a part of our fabric, what we are all about, and we aren't doing this for PR or anything else. It's just our way for giving back to the community.”
Every year, the congregation also participates in Meals on Wheels on Christmas.
Click here to learn more about the Congregation Ahavath Chesed, including a list of all 12 places volunteers visited.