Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic is running its course throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the world. But that’s not going to stop the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh from encouraging those it serves to serve others.
The Federation will host several days of online programming, Dec. 21 through Dec. 25, to mark Mitzvah Days this holiday season. The Zoom sessions include everything from encouraging Pittsburghers to color pages for hospitalized children and sew face masks to making phone calls to Pittsburgh seniors who are sheltering in place.
“It was really important for us to provide this outlet in a year where everything has been strange,” said Adam Hertzman, the Federation’s director of marketing.
One event will involve Pittsburghers writing notes of encouragement to female job seekers in the area; that “Dress for Success iVolunteer” event takes place 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23.
Mitzvah Days this year also will include two JCC blood drives — one in Squirrel Hill and one in the South Hills — from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 24.
David Chudnow did not mince words about whether this year’s Mitzvah Days would pale in comparison to previous years’ efforts. The manager of the Federation’s Volunteer Center said 2020 would not close without he and others setting the stage for area residents to give back to their neighbors.
“We’re still going to make a pretty big impact and brighten some people’s days,” Chudnow said.
Some organizers expect a strong response to one offering in particular: a Mitzvah Day event involving the Lone Soldier Foundation. On Friday, Dec. 25, at 10 a.m., Pittsburghers will gather on Zoom to write letters to Israel Defense Forces soldiers who have no family in Israel.
That’s where you’ll find Adrienne Indianer on Christmas Day.
Indianer is a longtime Federation volunteer and, appropriately, has chaired the Volunteer Center for the past two years. She’s been helping organize events for years and even met her husband of 19 years while volunteering.
“We’re very excited we have these opportunities for people to volunteer — we wanted to make sure we are still serving our communities,” Indianer said. “We’re trying to make things as normal as we can. We want to keep that continuity … these people who need us, need us more than ever.”
“We’re just happy to continue our history of caring and serving the community,” she added. “We’re there like we’ve always been.”
For full details on this year’s slate of Mitzvah Day events, go to jewishpgh.org/mitzvah-day. PJC
Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.