The date December 25 will likely have many thinking of Christmas. But for some, it represents Mitzvah Day.
Mitzvah, meaning “good deeds” or "acts of loving kindness" in Hebrew, will consist of 24 hours when many in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community plan to gather and provide services for local organizations.
This is the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s 15th year celebrating Mitzvah Day.
“We reach out to the Jewish Community to volunteer on days of the year in which a lot of other nonprofit organizations, especially non-Jewish nonprofit organizations, are short on staff,” said Adam Hertzman, director of marketing for the federation.
Hertzman said more than 700 volunteers will provide assistance to more than 90 organizations in the Pittsburgh area. That's “significantly more” than past years, he said, spurring the expansion of this year’s event from one day to two.
“Part of the reason for that is the Jewish Sabbath is on Friday night and Christmas is on a Friday,” said Hertzman. “But part of the reason is there was so much enthusiasm about volunteering that we had more and more people who were interested in coming out.”
Volunteers provide holiday music, help serve meals and visit homeless shelters, among other duties. This year's surge in generosity of time and spirit prompted organizers to expand geographically, as well.
“In the past we were very focused on Squirrel Hill," he said. "Now we have sights all around Pittsburgh from Monroeville to the North Shore to the South Hills.”