REFORM MOVEMENT SPONSORS MITZVAH CORPS THIRTY-TWO JEWS TO HELP BUILD A HOME IN BURLINGTON, VT
JUNE 29, 2003 - Thirty-two Reform Jewish adults from across North America departed today for Burlington, VT, where they will participate in the Union of American Hebrew Congregations' Adult Mitzvah Corps. During this week-long program, which concludes on July 5, they will partner with Habitat for Humanity, building a home for a disadvantaged family from the ground up.
"The Torah says: 'The world stands upon three things: worship, prayer and righteous deeds,'" says Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, co-sponsor of the Mitzvah Corps. "By performing these deeds of loving-kindness in a worshipful Jewish environment, the participants in this project are not only improving the world around them, but improving themselves as Jews and as human beings. We're hoping to build a community of faith as well as a new home."
Worship is a key ingredient to the Mitzvah Corps project, as participants will begin each day with worship, and end each day with study of Jewish texts. Several rabbis, including Feldman, Rabbi Ruth Gais of Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Debra Hachen of Congregation B'nai Shalom in Westborough, MA, and Rabbi Joel Soffin, leader of Temple Shalom in Succasunna, NJ - another co-sponsor of the project - will also be in attendance, and will work alongside the participants while lending spiritual guidance.
Participants also will attend a forum entitled "The Future of the American City," and attend special Shabbat services at Temple Sinai of South Burlingotn, the Mitzvah Corps' host congregation.
This year's program marks the first time since 1995 that the UAHC has co-sponsored a Mitzvah Corps.
The Union of American Hebrew Congregations is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. UAHC services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.