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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

JFNNJ Kicks Off March Mitzvah Madness

For all you March Madness fans out there, the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey is upping the game with a month-long mitzvah program, inviting people of all ages to come out and perform good deeds throughout March.

March Mitzvah Madness tips off on Sunday, March 3, with the Federation’s annual community fundraising phone-a-thon. There are many ways one can assist in Super Sunday; whether you call in a pledge of your own or reach out to someone else with a call for a pledge, raising money on behalf of the community is the goal, and together JFNNJ hopes Super Sunday will score big!

March Mitzvah Madness doers can also participate in a month-long food drive. The March Mega Food Drive provides dozens of collection sites throughout the community, allowing people to conveniently donate food. The food drive will culminate on March 31 with hundreds of people sorting, packing and distributing thousands of pounds of food for local pantries. Last year more than 6,000 pounds of food were distributed, helping many people in our community who struggle with food insecurities.

Jewish Federation is excited about the introduction of mitzvah pop-ups to the program. Federation is looking for mitzvah entrepreneurs who can invite their friends and family members to host pop-up projects during the month of March. Federation is supplying easy-to-follow do-it-yourself guides, and the rest is up to the participants.

Mitzvah pop-up projects include color-me-happy activity books, smile kits and snack packs. Pop-up stands can be set up in a variety of places including schools, synagogues, homes or even outdoor spaces, weather permitting. Each pop-up stand can be run differently, but the recommendation is to gather a minimum of 10 people who can work together and successfully complete 100 projects. Upon completion, these projects will be delivered to organizations that need them.

Alyson and Zvi Small, along with their four children, are hosting a pop-up in their home in Englewood. “As soon as I heard about this opportunity, I knew our kids would be excited to participate,” Alyson said. Chesed is a core value in the Small home, and incorporating mitzvot into their daily lives has always been a priority. “Hosting a pop-up project in our house where we can invite the community to participate seems like a perfect chance to engage others in what we try to embody on a regular basis,” she added.

Alyson offered her kids, ages 10-14, the option of which pop-up they wanted to create, and they chose to make snack packs for kids who don’t have enough food readily available to them. They are enthusiastic about inviting their friends to partake in an activity that will be both fun and meaningful. Involving the community in a project that brings people together for a worthwhile cause is something the Smalls consider time well spent.

Alyson plans to head to Costco where she can find a variety of healthy snacking options. “My kids love assembling mishloach manot packages and will probably prepare these snack packs in assembly-line fashion, just as they do their Purim packing,” she said. “In addition to having fun, it will also come with the benefit of knowing we are doing something nice for others.”

The Smalls are spreading the word to family and friends through email, hoping their pop-up will attract a large crowd eager to do a mitzvah! Snack packs will be going to children who need food to take to after-school counseling or who have weekend food insecurities. “The Federation supports the greater community,” explained Alyson. “It is important that my children see that we do mitzvot for Jewish and non-Jewish people who need help.”

Pop-up stands are perfect for all ages; one is never too old or too young to do a mitzvah. Community organizations, shuls and schools are all encouraged to host a pop-up stand. “Pop-up stands are trending throughout major cities, and now we are bringing them to the nonprofit world,” said Beth Figman, director, Volunteer Resource Services at Jewish Federation. Mitzvah stands offer an ideal way to enjoy time with family or friends and at the same time perform a good deed.

Join a pop-up mitzvah project or be a mitzvah entrepreneur and start one of your own. Either way, March Mitzvah Madness is sure to be a slam dunk!

By Andrea Nissel

To learn more about March Mitzvah Madness or to become involved with Jewish Federation, please visit www.jfnnj.org.

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