200 help with tikkun olam on COGH’s  22nd annual mitzvah day

The Bennett, Muraven, Keats, Wolff, and Clayman families build a bridge with Friends of Niskayuna Trails.

SCHENECTADY– Congregation Gates of Heaven (CGOH) recently held its 22nd annual mitzvah day. Two hundred members of the congregation volunteered at agencies throughout the area and helped out at the temple.  The day began with a blessing from Rabbi Matt Cutler, followed by a lunch at the temple. After lunch, the volunteer teams headed off to their assigned agencies.

Congregants Jay Rourke and Kim Mousaw were co-chairpersons of the day of volunteerism, community activism, and unity.

Part of CGOH’s Mitzvah Day this year was a Zumbathon, held at the Schenectady Jewish Community Center, to raise funds for the Immigration Law Clinic (ILC) at Albany Law School. The ILC’s mission is to provide direct representation to both detained and non-detained immigrants.

Jeff Cohen sorts food at the NE Regional food bank.

Other work that the CGOH volunteers did included:

  • Umbrella: helping homebound members of the community rake and do yard work in preparation for winter;
  • The Northeast Regional Food Bank —volunteers labeled, sorted, packed, counted and inventoried food and non-food items in morning and afternoon shifts;
  • Home Furnishings collection truck— loaded donated items onto the truck;
  • EWaste & Regional Computer Recycling & Recovery — loaded recycled electronics into bin;
  • Bethesda House & the Lighthouse — made 15 pots of beef stew and delivered it;
  • Mohawk Hudson Humane Society— sorted redeemable bottles and cans to help support its mission;
  • Habitat for Humanity – helped at the Habitat ReStore;
  • Massry Residence at the Daughters of Sarah —shared favorite poems with the residents;
  • Moon Catchers program —cut, sewed, ironed and assembled sanitary pads for women in Africa so that they can attend school and work;
  • Friends of Niskayuna Trails —cleaned up the Mohawk State Park/John Brown Trails;
  • Pie Baking at the Temple —made 31 apple pies and donated them to Bethesda House, Alternative Living Group, Mohawk Opportunities, and the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter;
  • CGOH Cemetery —cleaned up and raked leaves at the cemetery;
  • YWCA —baked cookies at the YWCA;
  • CGOH Lunch Prep and Clean up— volunteers prepared lunch and cleaned up after the lunch for the volunteers; and
  • CGOH Registration—volunteers checked in volunteers, handed out t-shirts and directed volunteers to their group.

Members also donated funds to the congregation’s Wachenheim Mitzvah Fund, which funded some of the items needed for Mitzvah Day projects.

Teacher Elisa Harrington-Verb, far right, and her kindergarten class visit elder congregant Ted Vinick.

The Rourke, Smith, and Gershon families bake cookies at the YWCA.

The Tabankin family makes apple pies.

CGOH members Sonia Rubenstein, Lorna Snapp, and Bea Hahn sew for the Moon Catchers program. Gerry Hahn lent a hand but is not included in photo.

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