Around the globe, compassionate individuals are watching the tragic events unfold in Ukraine and trying to devise ways to come to the aid of desperate refugees there in the wake of the Russian invasion. Some offer thoughts and prayers, while others write a check.
The folks at Pikesville’s Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Hebrew Congregation feel they’ve come up with an innovative concept for raising funds for Ukrainian refugees while at the same time enhancing the spiritual lives of members of the local Jewish community.
This Friday evening, March 25, MMAE, which is located at 7000 Rocklands Hills Drive in Greengate, will hold a “Mitzvahthon for Ukraine” at its weekly Shabbat service.
The modern Orthodox synagogue is asking interested male worshippers to put on tefillin, or phylacteries, at 6:15 before the congregation’s mincha (afternoon) prayer service. Interested women worshippers will be asked to light Shabbat candles at 6:50 before the start of the maariv (evening) service.
Assistance will be offered to anyone performing the mitzvot, or commandments.
For each participant of the “Mitzvahthon,” the synagogue will donate $18 — the Hebrew numerological value of chai, or life– to help Ukrainian refugees. For anyone who has never previously performed the mitzvot, the synagogue pledges to donate $54, or triple chai.
“Many of us at MMAE have a strong desire to do more to help the people suffering in Ukraine,” said the synagogue’s Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro. “Separately, there are many people in our shul who believe in the spiritual power of mitzvos. The act of doing a mitzvah in the merit of Ukraine, we believe, will increase Hashem’s redemptive energy in this world and especially upon those who are suffering from this needless war. The Mitzvathon for Ukraine combines spiritual activism with charity.”
At the start of the invasion on Feb. 24, MMAE posted in a statement on social media, “Like most of the world, we watched in horror as millions of Ukrainians suddenly found themselves in danger of all of the suffering war brings with it. Our thoughts and prayers should go out to all Ukrainians in the days ahead. But additionally, as Jews, we pray for the wellbeing of the thousands of Jews in Ukraine who are also under threat. We ask that you help those seeking to help the Jews of Ukraine by donating to the OU’s Ukraine Crisis Fund at OU.org/Ukraine, of which 100% of proceeds will go to the cause.”
Rabbi Shapiro said the funds from the Mitzvahthon will go to the Orthodox Union’s Ukraine Aid Fund and the Ukraine Emergency Fund of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore.
“That being said, we’d really like to find a specific family to help resettle,” he said. “Knowing specifically where our money is going will help connect us to this mitzvah in a much deeper way. Please let me know if you know how to find a specific recipient family in need.”
Rabbi Shapiro added, “If people would like to be part of the Mitzvathon but can’t make it, they can send a check made out to MMAE or donate on our website. Please put ‘Ukraine’ in the memo. And make sure to do a mitzvah in the merit of peace in Ukraine.”
For information about the “Mitzvahthon for Ukraine,” please contact us. To donate to the Ukraine Emergency Fund of The Associated, visit associated.org/Ukraine.
This article originally appeared in JMORE Magazine.