Mitzvah Day — a Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh tradition since 1998 — will look a little different this year.
Dubbed Mini Mitzvah Day, community members can donate blood at both the Squirrel Hill and South Hills locations of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh on Dec. 26. (Register at jewishpgh.org/series/mini-mitzvah-day.) Unopened, unexpired food items can also be donated at both locations for a food drive to benefit the JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry.
Additionally, Gift of Life will be on-site at the JCC in Squirrel Hill to do quick cheek swabs so community members can be included in its bone marrow registry. Donors who are matches will be eligible to donate stem cells and bone marrow, potentially saving a patient’s life. No appointment is necessary.
In past years, Mitzvah Day, often held on Dec. 25, provided opportunities for hundreds of community members to volunteer at multiple organizations throughout the area. The format change this year is due to two converging factors, according to Adam Hertzman, the Federation’s director of marketing.
“It’s not a full-blown Mitzvah Day this year,” Hertzman said, pointing to the Federation’s discontinuation of its Volunteer Center as a major reason for the change. The Federation, he explained, is in a “transition period” between running a full Volunteer Center and developing a leadership program.
The second reason is due to the pandemic, Hertzman said. Because the day of programming is planned months in advance, it was difficult to predict what COVID “would look like in this time period.”
Hertzman said Federation officials have not yet decided on the direction of Mitzvah Day 2023. PJC