Do A Mitzvah

We all know that it takes a village to raise a child and most of us have carefully chosen what kind of village influences our children. Who will help them to be the best person they can be?

Since Liam has begun attending the preschool associated with the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine he has been offered the chance to learn about citizenship and community support by “doing a mitzvah.” A mitzvah (as I’ve learned along with other Hebrew terms) means to do a good deed. The students sing a song about “doing a mitzvah” and their own good deeds are recognized aloud by the teachers and through mitzvah awards. Liam is over-the-moon-proud when he earns a mitzvah award. There is reinforcement about behaving in a way that earns one a mitzvah award. How much does that hug your heart?

Another way that Liam has learned about doing a mitzvah is by contributing items to the food pantry that is run out of the same building as the preschool. They can bring in a donation and earn a mitzvah sticker. The food pantry does not limit its resources to Jewish families, it is a place where anyone who has run into some bad luck may apply to receive this assistance. If their application is screened and accepted then the person requesting help can specify their needs and make an appointment to come pick up their items. Refugees from other countries, relocating in our area, are often recipients of these resources. People who had lives and occupations in a place that is no longer safe for them and they are trying to start from the bottom in a place that is honoring to help them do so. ┬áMany families who are living paycheck to paycheck can apply for assistance through the JCA’s food pantry. One particularly high oil bill can sometimes set a family’s budget over the line in a downward spiral that seems overwhelming. I, unfortunately, personally know families that have gone through periods of job loss, in the economy as it is, and have used community-based resources such as the food pantry at the JCA. How phenomenal that these people–who could be any one of us at any time–can turn to a place in their community for help. Liam is having valuable life lessons modeled for him. Lessons that can not be learned through only being told to be good and helpful. He is learning what it means to be a charitable, gracious, and humble citizen of the world in a school that already teaches him so much in the classroom.

{Granted, the children do not actually hand out the donated items; but in contributing items to the food pantry and understanding the mission of the food pantry they learn that their community helps support us all and that is model enough for now.}

In what ways are mitzvahs modeled in your family?

ry=480

Sharing is Caring at the JCA

Other posts about Liam at the JCA:

http://bebediaries.com/2012/09/10/keeping-things-kosher/