Magazine article Tikkun

A Cold Day in Rochester

Magazine article Tikkun

A Cold Day in Rochester

Article excerpt

I am definitely a beach person. I don't ski, and I don't have the least shred of machismo to bundle up in sock cap, double gloves, and boots to brave the winds that slash through my coat like a knife. I would rather be by a huge pool, zoned out in some place near Nowhere so I can do the kind of thinking that doesn't include, "Pick up the dry cleaning," "Don't forget to get detergent and paper towels at the store," and "Call the car insurance people about the dent in the fender." You understand now why I dreaded going to Rochester, New York, in late January. Mitzvahs or no Mitzvahs, I wished we had scheduled for May when the snow was off the ground and flowers would begin to come out.

As it happened, despite the bone-chilling cold, I had a spectacular time. Shabbat was lovely at a local synagogue, but the highlight was Sunday at the JCC, a Mitzvah day for 150 teenagers which gave new meaning to the phrase, "Cold hands, warm heart."

I've done a number of these Mitzvah Days. Cynics may say, "Every day is Mitzvah day! Devoting one day to this kind of thing misses the point," but I don't agree. Not only are so many Mitzvahs accomplished on that day, but many more are planned for the near and distant future, and then really happen in the near and distant future!

Here's some of what happened during my Mitzvah Day in Rochester:

1. Twenty-seven people learned how to do CPR and were certified that day. Pikuach Nefesh-saving lives.

2. A dozen learned how to make chicken soup, which would be delivered to a homebound individual the next Shabbat. With their newly acquired skills, many more gallons would be cooked over the coming years. Big Mitzvah!

3. Thirty-five of our dazzling young people learned how to do Mitzvah manicures and to give hand massages. Not so far in the future, they will go to local nursing homes and work their skills on some of our Elders. Hiddur Pnai Zaken-the Mitzvah of making our Elders' faces glow.

4. Ah!-my favorite: an Arthur Murray dance instructor taught about twenty-five of the young people dance steps from the Big Band era. Now the Jewish youth of Rochester will arrange to hold a Senior Ball at a nursing home. It was such an incredible sight, such enthusiasm, even by the ones (like me) with two left feet. …

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