For over 20 years, presidents of our country have called on all Americans to observe 9/11 as a “National day of service and remembrance with acts of selflessness and charity. In doing so, we prove once again that the power of those who seek to harm and to destroy is never greater than our power to persevere and to build.” Binghamton University has been doing just that for the past 21 years, since 2002, with its annual Mitzvah Marathon.
Spearheaded by the Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life (Chabad) and Hillel at Binghamton, this year’s Mitzvah Marathon Fair in remembrance of the victims of 9/11 took place on Monday, September 11, with thousands of students, faculty and staff participating. The Mitzvah Marathon presented members of the campus community with opportunities to do a good deed in memory of the victims of 9/11 and all victims of terror.
A pavilion was set up at which participants were able to choose from many opportunities to do a mitzvah. Available to passersby were multiple opportunities to contribute to charity, donate food, design New Year greeting cards for soldiers or get well cards for children in local hospitals, participate in a bone marrow national registry drive, and more. As the supply in blood banks is at an all-time low, a mega blood drive through the Red Cross also took place. Participants in the marathon filled out a form documenting their good deed and attached it to a picture of a victim of 9/11, and then strung it along a memory wall erected in the center of the campus.
“It’s an honor to join other students from Chabad and the greater Binghamton community in this important event in memory of those we lost on September 11. I hope that the mitzvah marathon inspires all students at Binghamton to give back,” coordinators of the event shared.
Since this event began at Binghamton University in 2002 as a way to mark the first anniversary of 9/11, campuses like University of Florida, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, Arizona State University and dozens more across the country have replicated the “Mitzvah Marathon.”
“With the passage of time from September 11, 2001, it is increasingly important that we raise awareness concerning this national tragedy. Most of the incoming students were not even born in 2001; this kind of program and others like it gives them pause to consider the event from an adult vantage point. As The Rebbe would always say: ‘A little light dispels a lot of darkness’–this program is designed to give participants a practical way in which they can mark the memory of those who perished and add more positivity and light to this world,” said Chabad Lubavitch Rabbi Levi Slonim, director of development with Chabad of Binghamton.