At our latest MIT (Madrichim in Training) training session, we spoke about the importance of “Tikun Olam,” which means to repair the world. The concept of tikun olam means helping others on every scale, from huge monetary donations to helping someone in need, hands-on. For me personally, I have always interpreted repairing the world as making small changes and helping people out in small ways, every single day. From picking up litter on the street to holding the door open for someone, there are so many ways you can make the world a better place on a day-by-day basis. It was out of this belief that “M.A.D. Mondays” was born.
M.A.D. (Make a Difference) Mondays is a new initiative started by BIEC this fall. On the first Monday of every month (although time and date change often in order to fit in with busy schedules), a group of BIEC volunteers get together to give back to the community, helping out at different organizations throughout Montreal. The goal of M.A.D. Mondays is two fold; participants are able to gain a greater knowledge and understanding of various organizations within the Montreal Jewish community, as well as devote a couple of hours each month to giving back to the community and helping those in need. This truly embodies the meaning of tikun olam.
For November’s M.A.D. Monday project a group of 8 volunteers spent the afternoon at MADA Community Centre. For those of you who have yet to visit MADA, I highly recommend you take some time to do so. Not only will you meet amazing people, but MADA also gives volunteers a strong sense of how close knit and caring the Montreal Jewish community really is. MADA’s mission is to “help people in need with the basic necessities of life, while preserving their dignity and helping them become self sufficient members of the community.” They do so in many different ways, including serving free meals in their cafeteria, helping provide warm clothes to those in need, welcoming people in for holiday meals, and their Shabbat to Share program, which delivers pre-packaged “Shabbat boxes” to those unable to prepare for Shabbat on their own. Spending time with other volunteers or anyone who has benefited from MADA’s services, you are able to witness first hand the effect that this organization has on those who are involved. Pride, gratefulness, joy and generosity are just some of the traits that everyone is eager to share with those who are volunteering or visiting MADA for the first time.
MADA truly appreciates and is thankful for all the work that their devoted volunteers do, from large scale to small. A great example of this happened during our afternoon working with them. Our group, initially set to help pack Shabbat boxes with the Shabbat to Share program, was told upon arrival that we would instead be helping out in the kitchen. Unsure of what this meant, we were set up at a long table with plastic gloves, cutting boards, knives…and huge containers of garlic! Although peeling garlic may not seem as though it makes as much of an impact as packing Shabbat boxes, we were quickly proven wrong. When one of the MADA employees came to speak to us about the organization, she made sure to mention that we had one of the most important jobs at the centre. Why, you might ask? “Without garlic, the food we serve in our cafeteria would be bland and tasteless. The people who come to MADA don’t only need food…they need a little spice in their lives. By peeling this garlic, you are bringing that spice!” With these words we were not only motivated to peel our garlic in double-time; we were inspired to hear that every single action done inside the walls of the MADA Community Centre really does help repair the world.
M.A.D. Mondays will be volunteering with a different community organization each month. In December, we will be collaborating with the Friendship Circle for “Sufganiyot for the Soul,” making sufganiyot to share with the community. If you wish to get involved in this, or any other M.A.D. Monday projects, or for more information, please contact Shoshi Rothschild at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s your chance to make a difference in your community, so don’t miss out!
Up until I moved to Montreal, Shabbat was a holiday celebrated only when visiting my aunt, uncle and cousins in Toronto, or while I was up at camp. Once I moved out on my own, however, I began to feel the importance of celebrating Shabbat with the people around me, in order to start building my own traditions in a new city that I now call my home.
I have been thinking a lot about Shabbat lately, and the idea of devoting one day a week to the idea of “rest,” whatever that may mean to you. While working on an upcoming project (stay tuned for more info on Shabbat 180), I found myself doing a lot of research surrounding the idea of “menucha.” In the biblical story of creation, God took six days to create the world and on the seventh day, He rested. On this seventh day, God created “menucha,” which means stillness and peace, in Hebrew. Shabbat, therefore, is meant to be a time of stillness and peace. No matter what religion you practice, after a busy week of work, school, running around, sitting in traffic, we all need one day to unwind and relax. What we do to relax ourselves varies from person to person, but one thing that we all have in common is that everyone can appreciate a full day of rest.