Healing the world
Temple Shalom draws 700
for Mitzvah Mission Day
by Tamara Stokes
Mike Moss and his 8-year-old son, Aaron, spent Sunday sweeping the floors and porches of the prairie style houses at the Dallas Arboretum's Texas Pioneer Adventure section, picking up trash in the surrounding area and enjoying the outdoors.
And Aaron got to plow an herb garden. Asked whether he could do this to support his family and eat, he enthusiastically said, "Sure!"
The Mosses were among 700 volunteers from Temple Shalom who pitched in Sunday to work more than 1,500 hours on that one day, the synagogue's Mitzvah Mission Day. The volunteers helped out at 30 organizations and agencies throughout the community.
Volunteers gathered at the Reform synagogue early Sunday morning and then traveled to agencies such as the arboretum, Dallas Aquarium, Heritage Farmstead, Austin Street Shelter and others, to clean, paint, do yard work, prepare children's crafts, meals and a variety of other tasks.
When Mike Moss finished at the arboretum, he walked over to the historic DeGolyer home, where a group of volunteers was creating templates for children's craft projects that will be used during the upcoming Dallas Blooms, an event known for its colors of springtime and lush, groomed gardens around White Rock Lake.
Meanwhile, his daughter, Elissa, and wife, Jill Chasens, spent their time volunteering at the Heritage Farm in Plano.
"It think it's a great experience," said Mike Moss. "We don't always get to work together for others as a family, so this was a good way to get our children involved in social action."
Noting mitzvah means more than just doing a good deed, Temple Shalom's Rabbi David Lyon said, "It's a true sense of our obligation to continue to make our world, nation, an our community a better place for everyone."
The motto of tikkun olam, healing the world, "empowers us to repair the world in our own special ways," said Melanie Yonks, project co-chair.
For its activism, the Dallas synagogue has been named the recipient of the Fain award for social activism sponsored by the Union of American Hebrew Congress in honor of social activist Irving Fain. Lyon is scheduled to go to Washington, D.C., later this month to receive the award on behalf of his congregation.
"Mitzvah Day is something we are definitely doing again," said Lyon. "It promoted a real sense of community."
"If anyone asks what is a mitzvah, these volunteers know within themselves the emotional impact, as well the impact they have on others with their actions," he said. "I am very proud of my congregation."
After a day of doing good, volunteers were rewarded to dinner sponsored by the Temple Brotherhood back at the shul. Yonks said about 250 people enjoyed the hamburger supper and shared fellowship, fun and tales of their day's work.
"I hope we can continue to do this," she said.
This story was published in the DallasJewishWeek
on: Thursday, March 6, 2003