Mitzvot Project / Tikkun Olam
70th Anniversary Mitzvot Project
Hillcrest Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue in eastern Queens, decided to celebrate its 70th anniversary in a very special way. Rather than using the occasion as an excuse for partying or fund raising, our rabbi, Rabbi Manes Kogan, suggested that we use the occasion to increase chesed within our community. And so, the 70th Anniversary Mitzvot Project was born.
The goal of the project was to engage as many Hillcrest members as possible in as many different mitzvah projects as possible. And boy, did we ever do that! At the end of the first year of the project, the start of our 71st year as a congregation, the Mitzvot Project has 25 projects up and running and more than 200 volunteers actively involved in a wide variety of activities.
We began our anniversary year with an introduction to the project during Rosh Hashanah services and an official launch at our annual Dinner in the Sukkah. Throughout the year there were articles in our monthly paper bulletin, and emails and information on our web site. There were also countless announcements from the bimah on Shabbat mornings about upcoming events and projects.
At the end of the first year, we were so happy with the level of commitment and enthusiasm for the project that we have decided to continue our “year of the mitzvah” and make it “the decade of the mitzvah.” We are continually adding new mitzvah projects as members come forward with suggestions and the offer to head a project. We will grow from project to project and from strength to strength.
Listed below are our projects, with a short description of each one. As you can see, Hillcrest is and will continue to be a synagogue and a Jewish center committed to chesed.
News From the Caring Circle
The Caring Circle has become part of the fabric of Hillcrest Jewish Center. At this time our Caring Circle has developed an awareness of the needs of many of our Hillcrest Jewish Center members. Volunteers provide a variety of services. Visiting members has always been an integral part of our focus. However, we are also sending notes to those Hillcrest members who are homebound. We are also making phone calls and we help with shopping and with transportation. We can also help connect members with a variety of social services, if needed. If you have any questions about our program, please contact the coordinators Nancy Rifkin or Carol Kantro.
Hakhnasat Orchim – Extending Hospitality
- Shabbat Greeters: people who stand at the door each Shabbat and greet people as they enter the sanctuary
- Home hospitality for out of town guests: Whether it’s a simcha or sadness, no one should feel that they can’t attend because they don’t have a place to stay. We will arrange for home hospitality.
K’vod Ha’Briyot – Honoring Human Beings
- Blood Drive - organizing our yearly blood drive
- Seder for the Disabled - Each year Hillcrest Jewish Center sponsors a seder for disabled adults and their care givers
Somech Noflim – Lifting Up the Fallen
- Willing Hearts, Helping Hands-relieving the stress and isolation of the care-givers of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease
Chesed Shel Emet – True Kindness
- Cemetery Cleanup - Several times a year Hillcrest members and others in the community work together to maintain Jewish cemeteries in the area
Malbish Arumim – Clothing the Naked
- Coat Drive - A yearly drive to collect coats for those who would otherwise face a cold winter without the proper garments
Bikur Holim – Visiting the Sick
- Caring Circle – Hillcrest members visit homebound members or those recuperating from illness, going the "extra mile" sometimes to run an errand or bring a little treat
- Visiting the Margaret Teitz Nursing Home – bringing companionship and a smile to those in a local nursing home
Patoach Tiftach – You Shall Open Your Hand
- Mitzvah Cooking – cooking and delivering a Shabbat meal about once every 5-6 months for those who are temporarily unable to do their own cooking
- Feeding the Hungry – collecting food for food pantries and enlisting volunteers to work in a local soup kitchen
- Project Linus - Creating blankets and other knitted items for newborns, children, and women in shelters
- The Abayudaya Project - to educate HJC members and others about the Jewish community in Uganda - the Abayudaya. They are a group of between 700 and 1000 who live in four villages in eastern Uganda. They are native Africans and are not Diaspora Jews
Nichum Avelim – Comforting the Mourners
- Nichum Avelim – Hillcrest members reach out to families facing loss, helping as we can in any way needed: delivering and picking up shiva benches and sidurim, making shiva visits, and bringing a token of friendship from the synagogue family
Ze Eli V’Anvehu – This is My God!
- Attending Minyan - Members commit to attending minyan a specific number of times per week
- World Wide Wrap - An annual event, sponsored by the Men's Club, encouraging and teaching us how to "wrap" Tefillin
Mishpacha - Taking Care of Our Family
- Leisure Club – Seniors in our community have a welcoming place to meet, socialize and share a hot meal once a week
- Shabbat Basket Deliveries to members of our shul – Flowers, challahs and wine are delivered to Hillcrest members, and sometimes non-members, who are in need a being remembered and to keep in touch and brighten their Shabbat
- College Outreach - sending packages of holiday foods and goodies to our college students prior to Hanukkah and Purim
- Refurbish the Mowshowitz Library – a long term project to refurbish the book, CD, and video collections as well as making the library a more attractive and accessible place. The is library open for business right after Shabbat services as well as during the week.
- Lamed Vavnicks - calls to HJC members prior to holidays to wish them La Shana Tovah
- Fun on Shabbat - family play time in the gym
- Emergency Preparedness Program - to help Hillcrest members prepare for any disaster with the right equipment, food, medical supplies, etc.
Ahavat Eretz Israel – Love of Israel
- Guarding the Good Name of Israel (and the Jewish People) – responding to defamations in the media and elsewhere
- Celebrate Israel Parade – working on and attending the parade