Ending Passover With A Raft Of Good Deeds

It's A Mitzvah, A Blessing, `The Living Out Of Our Faith'

April 28, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

About 1,000 Jews from Baltimore Hebrew Congregation celebrated the final day of Passover yesterday by participating in Yom Mitzvah, a day of good deeds.

Clearly, the day was one of action -- not talk -- as men, women and children joined in 26 service projects on and off the grounds of the Park Heights complex.

Several hundred set out to perform deeds such as planting crops in Butler and trees in Randallstown, and serving breakfast at the Ronald McDonald House, a city hospice for families of gravely ill children undergoing treatment in area hospitals.

"Today is a day for the living out of our faith," said Rabbi Rex D. Perlmeter, senior rabbi of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, which has members from about 1,800 households. "It's belief and teachings translated into deeds."

For Alex Eifler, 15, of Park School, his deeds for the second Yom Mitzvah meant a chance to polish the congregation's silver, more than 200 pitchers, platters and trays in need of cleaning.

"Last year, I sorted clothing, and that was hard work," Eifler said.

Adam Green, 14, of Friends School, said he had fun planting trees along Jones Falls last year, but spent yesterday helping prepare a dozen Texas Hash casseroles, sufficient to feed 96. Each was made with 24 pounds of ground beef, 12 cups of rice and 48 chopped onions.

Each month, the congregation's Sisterhood project provides 800 to 900 meals for Our Daily Bread, a city soup kitchen, said Sharon Green, Adam's mother. The hash will go there, too.

Jill Sapperstein, 9, preferred making get-well cards with her mother, Stacy. They will be sent to people in a hospital in Israel.

A third-grader at Fort Garrison Elementary School, Jill fashioned a colorful greeting with a pop-up heart, but was equally proud of the stained-glass effect on her mother's handmade card.

Jocelyn Sher, 9, a third-grader at Summit Park Elementary School, was busy making red ribbons, "to help people show their concern for AIDS." Noah Palmer, 9, a fourth-grader at Garrison Elementary, made two of about 60 decorative cases for mezuzahs, which Jews hang on their doors as a reminder to recite the prayer it encloses.

"We are not surprised but certainly delighted by the overwhelming response of our congregation," said Rabbi Peter Kessler, a co-director for the day's activities with Allene Gutin.

Outdoors, teens and pre-teens were washing nearly 100 cars, for which motorists donated $3 for Jews in Cuba, said Samantha Gendler, 12, a seventh-grader at Franklin Middle School.

A walk-a-thon for toddlers, for which books were pledged for every segment of a marked course the children walked, helped bring in more than 500 picture books for special-needs students at the Lois T. Murray Elementary School in Baltimore.

Yesterday's most popular deed was Garden Harvest at a Butler farm, where 175 people planted crops to be harvested and donated to soup kitchens, Gutin said.

A prayer recited by all summed up yesterday's Yom Mitzvah: "The world is sustained by three things: by the Torah, by worship and by loving deeds."

Pub Date: 4/28/97

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