Good deeds take center stage at Temple Beth Sholom’s mitzvah weekend.
BY RODOLFO ROMAN
Special to The Miami Herald
Miami Country Day school student Sandy Aronson shared his 18th birthday celebration with those in need.
“This is a gift,” said Aronson, who celebrated his birthday March 14. “I like helping out people. It makes me feel good.”
Aronson was just one of hundreds of volunteers who came out to lend a hand for the less fortunate at the annual Mitzvah Day at Temple Beth Sholom, 4144 Chase Ave.
Around 800 temple members and nonmembers volunteered in more than 40 community service projects, including decorating food baskets for the elderly to feeding the homeless across Miami-Dade County.
Joined by seven other young temple members, Aronson hand-delivered brown lunch bags filled with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, raisins, goldfish snacks and a napkin near Camillus House in downtown Miami.
“It is a good cause; they need it,” he said. “Maybe with that sandwich they will survive another day and it can help them get energy to help them find a job”
The group of youngsters and volunteers helped put together more than 1,200 lunch bags, which were distributed at Camillus House, Douglas Park, Salvation Army and the Community Partnership for the homeless. The teens also gave out sports hats.
“I am grateful that there’s someone out there that cares about us,” said Mathew Smith, who is homeless, as he looked for a hat inside a bag carried by Aronson.
Volunteers gathered at the temple for registration, breakfast and an opening ceremony.
From there, groups of helpers headed to their project destinations, like Shadowlawn Elementary, 149 NW 49th St.
Miami Beach resident Allison Feldman assisted her father, Michael Rosenberg, a retired orthodontist who gave 100 children a free dental exam.
“Watching their smiles, it is something you wear for the rest of your life,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
After patients got their exam, Feldman handed out goodie bags filled of tooth paste and tooth brushes.
Caryn Lubetsky, co-chair of mitzvah weekend, said the effort was gratifying.
“It’s about making a difference in lives,” she said.
At the temple, teenagers held a car wash to help raise funds for Camp Jenny, a four-day camp run by Jewish youth from across the Southeastern United States held over Memorial Day weekend.
After completing their projects, helpers enjoyed a family fun day.
Participants enjoyed games, yoga, free massages, a healthy snack demonstration and tasting. A blood drive took place at the welcome center.
A barbecue also helped raise funds to provide help for Victims Response, a nonprofit organization that serves victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault.
Florida State University student Ashley Jonas, 22, contributed by handing out lunches for the homeless during her spring break.
“It’s a good effort,” said Jonas, who plans to replicate the effort in Tallahassee.
“It’s important that everyone has food in their stomach.”