We invited our readers to share their plans for renewing their spiritual commitment by taking on new mitzvot for the new year. Responses ranged from concrete measures to more esoteric commandments, and one that was even a little tongue-in-cheek. All represent steps along the path to a meaningful year ahead. We’d like to thank everyone who accepted our Mitzvah Challenge.
On Sept, 15 I will go to Hillel at Arizona State University and offer to volunteer my services. I’ve been meaning to do this for the past year but this has put my feet in the right direction! I have grandchildren in Atlanta and Chicago who have all gone away to college. Two have graduated already and it’s time I give time to other college students who might need a Bubbe Esther to talk to.
– Esther Zack
I will donate four hours of my time helping nonprofit organizations (along with a large number of other volunteers) paint, clean, help with yard work, etc. as part of an annual multi-congregational effort to help the Green Valley community. I was taught not to just take from what my community had to offer, but to also give back to help strengthen the area in which I live. I have always done this because it is tremendously rewarding and satisfying. Helping out battered women’s agencies and other similar organizations is critically important, as is the other work we do on Mitzvah Day.
– Amy Storer
The mitzvah I would like to renew in my life is the one of sanctifying the month. I have taught my two-year-old son to site the stars for Shabbat and want him to learn how to site the new moon. It is very meaningful to me to take time at the end of the last Shabbat in the month, not just for the blessings, not to think about what I have to finish for the month, but to give all that I have to Hashem so that he can make the way. Also, it’s very important from that day on to diligently search the skies for the new moon. Last year and this year I sited the new moon a day earlier than reported by the Jewish calendar, a total of three months. I’m saddened by the fact few seem to notice or have any interest. I hope my zeal can inspire some watchers.
– Amanda Grounds
At our granddaughter Bari’s bat mitzvah in 2010, the centerpiece on each table was a hand-sewn therapeutic doll for Hadassah Hospital in Israel. Bari, her family and friends worked side-by-side for three months creating these dolls. If our granddaughter could take on a creative mitzvah project, why couldn’t I, along with other local Hadassah members and friends in Green Valley, make a similar but ongoing commitment? Over the last five years, our group has made over 250 therapeutic dolls in hospital gowns. Doctors and nurses use the dolls to demonstrate each child’s upcoming medical procedure, which helps calm the children’s fears. Half of them were sent to Hadassah Hospital in Israel and the others were hand-delivered to Banner University Medical Center – Diamond Children’s in Tucson. Through this work I have become a dedicated Hadassah member, a more caring individual and passionate leader, guiding other women to actively participate in doing good deeds. Please join us as we renew our commitment to our mitzvah in 2016. If you are interested in participating, please call me at 520-232-3599.
– Marcia Wiener
The new mitzvah I will add this year is not to consult yid’onim (wizards) (Leviticus 19:31; Mitzvah 48 in Rambam’s Enumeration). While I won’t eschew Harry Potter books, I’ll remember that they are fiction. I will avoid watching NBA games featuring the Washington Wizards, as I might be tempted to talk to the screen. If perchance I watch “that movie” – you know, the Oz one – I’ll avoid the final scenes.
– Marty Johnston
Pictured from left: Esther Zack, Amy Storer, Marcia Wiener and Marty Johnson