St Albans Synagogue welcomes Syrian refugees for Mitzvah Day

PUBLISHED: 19:00 28 November 2018

St Albans United Synagogue members observing Mitzvah Day by cleaning up the River Ver. Picture: St Albans United Synagogue

St Albans United Synagogue members observing Mitzvah Day by cleaning up the River Ver. Picture: St Albans United Synagogue

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Synagogues in St Albans helped community charities to celebrate Mitzvah Day, a special day of social action within the Jewish community.

Volunteer Lesley from St Albans United Synagogue helps clear up the River Ver for Mitzvah Day. Picture: St Albans United SynagogueVolunteer Lesley from St Albans United Synagogue helps clear up the River Ver for Mitzvah Day. Picture: St Albans United Synagogue

St Albans Masorti Synagogue (SAMS) ran 11 different projects in honour of Mitzvah Day on November 18, including preparing meals and knitting for homeless people, making and decorating cupcakes for a women’s refuge and collecting for a local foodbank.

Children visited and entertained residents at Verulam House nursing home, and members of the synagogue took part in an interfaith tidying-up event at Fleetville cemetery.

The synagogue also hosted an afternoon tea for local refugees from Syria alongside Herts Welcomes Syrian Families. The tea featured both Syrian and Jewish music and dancing, with more than 100 people of all ages taking part.

Helen Singer, who coordinated the event, said: “We wanted to learn about each other’s cultures, so Syrian ladies cooked delicious coconut cakes and pancakes alongside our volunteers who made brownies and scones. Then we had tea in SAMS’ building, with activities for young people upstairs.”

St Albans United Synagogue members observing Mitzvah Day. Picture: St Albans United SynagogueSt Albans United Synagogue members observing Mitzvah Day. Picture: St Albans United Synagogue

Members of St Albans United Synagogue in Oswald Road also observed Mitzvah Day by giving their time to the community.

Three weeks ago synagogue members visited the Holocaust Survivors’ Centre in north-west London to provide tea and company for its members.

On Mitzvah Day itself, families gathered in the synagogue to decorate tote bags for Leket, the largest foodbank in Israel. They also made cards for children awaiting heart surgery in Israel, and collected food for the St Albans foodbank.

On Sunday, November 25, a group of synagogue members helped the Ver Valley Society clean up a section of the River Ver at Bricket Wood. Volunteers braved the cold and rain to clear the riverbank of overgrown scrub and saplings.

Organiser Vivienne Morris said: “It was great to be able to use Mitzvah Day to benefit our local community as well as deserving causes both in this country and in Israel on this very special 10th anniversary of the event.

“We thoroughly enjoyed our time by the River Ver; despite the scratches and thorns, it was worth it to see the results.”

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