Attendance for community services and yom tov meals may be…
It’s a mivtzoim route, but instead of Yeshiva bochurim, the distributors are adult community members. With forty-five participating chapters, at Chabad houses in cities around the globe the Mitzvah Society, a project of Merkos 302, is empowering community members to maximize the shliach’s impact.
The Mitzvah Society model is premised on the Rebbe’s hora’ah of “shliach oseh shliach.” At participating Chabad houses shluchim team up with their community members to distribute mitzvah kits to their neighbors. “The benefit is twofold,” says Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Director of Merkos 302. “A shliach is limited in the amount of people he can reach, but when his community members become Mitzvah ambassadors he compounds the number of people he influences and brings the Mitzvah to people beyond his direct circle of contacts. At the same time he empowers his community members to take ownership of their yiddishkeit and share it with their friends.”
In the last few days, following designated routes around their neighborhoods, or reaching out independently to Jewish friends, neighbors and colleagues, Mitzvah ambassadors have distributed over 5,000 Seder kits and over 10,000 matzahs. With matzah, grape juice, a kiddush cup, candles, a Seder plate, afikoman bag, instruction cards, and even a game, the Seder kits contain all one would need to lead a Seder at home. And the positive responses are pouring in. “My daughters will be joining me for the Seder and the contents of your kit will be an integral part,” one woman gratefully wrote in a feedback form on the Mitzvah Society website. “You are inoculating us with a one-hundred percent effective dose of Yiddishkeit,” a couple from Cherry Hill, New Jersey wrote to Rabbi Mendy and Dinie Mangel, directors of Chabad of Cherry Hill, who’s community runs a Mitzvah Society chapter.
Due to COVID this year, the Mangels will not host the approximately 100 people who attend their seder each year. But thanks to the Mitzvah Society they have distributed 250 Seder kits. “There are Jews who won’t respond to me as a rabbi, but since their friend shared the Mitzvah, they are planning to host a Seder,” says Rabbi Mangel.
Rabbi Leibele Rodal, director of engagement at Friendship Circle in Montreal described the Mitzvah Society as, “Shlichus on steroids”.
Distributing Pesach kits last year was the Mitzvah Society’s first big project. Over the last twelve months they have given out thousands of Mezuzahs during a ‘Mezuzah It Forward’ campaign in Elul, as well as Tishrei packages, Shabbos kits, and Menorahs and Mishloach Monos ahead of the yomim tovim.
“The impact of these projects will be multiplied manifold in the coming months as more Chabad houses continue to join the Mitzvah Society. says Rabbi Mendy Ceitlin, Mitzvah Society Director, “This initiative transforms community members into ambassadors, laymen into leaders, and with that power who knows how far a Mitzvah can go?”
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