Social action has always been important to me, as an individual and as a role model. I often tell my sons, “Part of being in a community is helping when help is needed.” From the time they were toddlers, I looked for ways to teach them this principle through action, but was often frustrated at the lack of choice. Despite tremendous need, it was difficult to find meaningful social action projects that genuinely include them. Children learn good habits by doing good things, and I worried that all my talk of being helpful in the community and working to make the world more just was not being backed up by actions.

With that in mind, Shari and I began to think about creating some social action projects that could genuinely include people of all ages, an idea which eventually became Family Mitzvah Team. The point of Family Mitzvah Team is to provide the entire community with a chance to do good works together, with everyone playing a meaningful role.

The first Family Mitzvah Team project is coming up next weekend, October 18, and I couldn’t be more excited about it! We will be working together to bake cookies to donate to the Pine Street Inn, a local homeless shelter. My contact at the shelter tells me that there are no “treats” in their budget, so that they can focus on essentials. Yet a donated cookie can brighten the day of a homeless person in a meaningful way – and it’s something that the children in our community can relate to.

Our congregant Karen Lasser, a physician who treats some Pine Street clients, suggested that we make some of the cookies diabetic-friendly. Dr. Lasser has found a suitable recipe and is taking the lead on this part of the project. Along with her daughters, she plans to deliver the cookies to the Inn so she can visit her patients who are staying there.

Family Mitzvah Team kicks off on October 18 at 1:30pm in Penn-Spero Hall & Kitchen. Volunteers are still needed – before, day-of, and after – so please think about joining the team! Contact me at community@ohabei.org or 617.277.6610, ext. 111 for more information.