December 25th may be known as Christmas for people of Christian faith, but for Pittsburghers who practice Judaism, the special date is synonymous with Mitzvah Day.
Mitzvah Day, which often takes place over several days around Christmas in America and through November in the UK, is a celebration of communities, volunteers and social action.
In honor of tradition, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh sent volunteers out to multiple different sites around the city Sunday to lend a hand and spread happiness.
RabbleVID’s Hillary Maglin stopped by a bingo event for the elderly at the Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and talked to longtime volunteer Mollie Butler — and her daughter, Lilly — about Mitzvah Day.
Butler explained that a “Mitzvah” is a good deed.
“Mitzvah Day is a day where we give back to our community,” she said. “Most of the volunteers are Jewish, and Christmas is not our holiday, so it’s a good opportunity, a good time to give back to the community.”
Butler, who acted as site captain for a bingo event at Charles Morris, added that many workers throughout the city take off for Christmas, so Mitzvah Day volunteers make sure the people of the community still have what they need during the holiday.
According to JFed’s volunteer website, the group also prepared and served lunch at the Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community, among other things, on Sunday.
Because Mitzvah Day has significantly grown in the city in recent years, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has expanded the event to two days: Mitzvah Day will continue Monday, December 25th with more community activities.
“We are partnering with the food pantry to make lasagnas that are ready to go in people’s microwaves or ovens,” Butler said of Monday’s plans. “We are making kits for kids in hospitals that are arts and crafts kits, so they can do an art project while they might be lonely and bored in a hospital.”
Other Mitzvah Day volunteer events through Monday include fixing up the Bob O’Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park, cleaning of the Gwen’s Girls facility on the North Shore, additional bingo events and more.