We must carry the spirit of Mitzvah Day into the difficult winter

WIJPS collected for Camp Simcha and Redbridge Food Bank (Mitzvah Day)
WIJPS collected for Camp Simcha and Redbridge Food Bank (Mitzvah Day)

Mitzvah Day, born in the Jewish community, promotes support and inclusivity. That work started by Laura Marks, Mitzvah Day Founder and Chair, is now more vital than ever as we are in the middle of the second national restrictions in response to this global pandemic.

This year has been challenging year for us all. I lost my mother to Covid-19 in the first lockdown in April. Mitzvah Day remind us all that small acts of kindness make a big difference. It celebrates the spirit of compassion, which for many people drives their faith and beliefs. Mitzvah Day – and indeed Mitzvah month – this year celebrates an admirable initiative that  I am very pleased to participate in.

There is no greater testament to the resilience of our society than the love, empathy and compassion the British people have shown one another since the onset of Covid-19.

I thank everyone who will be taking part, donating their time in the coming month to help their communities.

In responding to this pandemic, central and local government are working with faith leaders, charities and grass-roots organisations to collectively ‘put our arms’ around communities.

Together, we have shielded the most vulnerable: delivering vital food parcels, protecting rough sleepers, and giving our more elderly and isolated neighbours help, support, and a social network to call upon.

I have been grateful for the support of Jewish faith leaders and our Places of Worship Taskforce on policies around funerals, so that close family had the immutable right to attend the funerals of their loved ones who died of Covid-19.

The Government has worked with the Chief Rabbi, the British Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and many others in the Jewish community to ensure that significant spiritual moments, including Passover, were celebrated virtually while gathering in synagogues was not possible.  As a person of faith, I understand the sacrifice you have all made to forgo communal worship as we combat this disease.

As we head into a difficult winter, we need to carry with us the spirit of Mitzvah Day and continue to support one another.

We will emerge from this pandemic stronger ever, safe in the knowledge that the values of love, empathy and compassion will continue to define the character of our nation for generations to come. It is that spirit I salute your fortitude and send my best wishes for Mitzvah day.

About the Author
Lord Stephen Greenhalgh is UK Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities
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