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Thousands Join Mitzvah Day Benefits

November 06, 2000|ZANTO PEABODY

More than 5,000 volunteers from 30 congregations participated in volunteer programs throughout the San Fernando Valley on Sunday as part of Mitzvah Day.

Tricycling tikes traded smiles for the chance to help other children with learning disabilities in one activity of the Valleywide day of good deeds.

The youngsters of Temple Valley Beth Shalom earned "smiles" for riding laps around a track during a fund-raiser.

Mitzvah Day, in its sixth year of celebration, is set aside by the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation Valley Alliance for community outreach programs, said executive director Saundra Mendel.

"Mitzvah translates as a good deed," Mendel said. "It's a major tenet of Judaism. So many of us want to do good deeds, but maybe it's easier to get started if it's organized."

Money earned in the tricycle races was earmarked for education programs at Valley Beth Shalom's day school and at a similar program in Israel, Mendel said.

Jack Mayer, director of the alliance, said the day, also known this year as Tikkun Olam 2000, or Repair the World, gave congregations a visible way to highlight programs they participate in all year.

"Painting schools, working in soup kitchens, collecting food, cleaning up parks," Mayer said. "There's always been a deep commitment in the Jewish community to engage in projects of social action. It's a nice thing when you can bring so many families together and do it all on one day."

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