The Hiddur Mitzvah Project has been a part of numerous communities for over ten years. In that time, we have worked with over 10,000 people in 28 US states, as well as abroad. Events have taken place at schools, colleges, camps, synagogues, Jewish community centers, and other more. In addition to being a program to create personal, heirloom quality Judaica, the project has been used to fund activities like a Purim celebration in Uganda and Shabbat dinners in Argentina. This article from The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism highlights many of they types of activities facilitated by the Hiddur Mitzvah Project. Below are just a few examples of past programs, big and small.
Give to the Gulf:
New Orleans International Music Festival:
Scotch Plains, NJ:
In response to hurricane Katrina, The Gary Rosenthal Collection used The Hiddur Mitzvah Project to provide Jewish families in New Orleans with Judaica pieces to replace those lost or damaged in the disaster. Our Hanukkah drive was a great success, supplying over 500 dreidels and hanukkiot to families in need at a Hanukkah celebration in New Orleans on December 20, 2005
August, 2006. Camp Yachad organized a hiddur mitzvah componant to their Summer activities, sending their hope as well as judaica to the Jews in New Orleans who were struck by Hurricane Katrina. In addition to sending their own various creations and needed supplies, the campers worked with the Hiddur Mitzvah Program to create Gary Rosenthal Judaica to send as well.
Talmud Torah held two successful Hiddur Mitzvah Projects that attracted hundreds of families and provided a large amount of funding for the school.
The B'nai Israel synagogue added a new Education wing. In celebration we worked with students to create the glass for a mountable tzedakah box for each of the 26 new classrooms.
Gary participated in this event where families created pieces of Judaica together. A group of 5th grade students made the glass for dreidels that they donated to their sister congregation in the Ukraine.
Beth Tfiloh, Baltimore, MD:
University of Maryland Hillel:
Princeton Jewish Center:
February 24, 2010. As a senior gift, the departing class created glass for small tzedakah boxes, which were sold as a fundraiser. All proceeds from the sale of the tzedakah boxes will go toward the commission of a large display tzedakah box, which the Senior Class also helped to design and create, and which will be displayed in the High School Lobby.
As part of the University of Maryland Hillel Freshman Fest, September 2, 2009, the incoming students created glass panels in their school colors. Some of that glass became the front of a large wall mounted tzedakah box for the Hillel building and the rest of it became part of smaller tzedakah boxes that were sold through the Hillel as a fundraiser.
A Hiddur Mitzvah was held at the Jewish Center of Princeton, November 22, 2009. In addition to the event, Gary presented to the center a tzedakah box that was commissioned to kick off the center's 60th anniversary. The glass on this uniqe star shaped tzedakah box was created at the event. Each of star's points is a seperate box for different causes.
The community of Temple Kol Ami made hundreds of mezuzot for their temple and for individuals.
Students created glass mosaics for mezuzot that were sold at a crafts fair to raise money for the school.
The Temple Society used a Hiddur Mitzvah Project in a workshop on tzedakah. All attendees created their own tzedakah boxes.
Masorti/Conservative Judaism's Yad Program:
Purim in Uganda:
The Hiddur Mitzvah Project took an international leap to work with groups in Israel in a number of ways. Through The Hiddur Mitzvah Project, two distant communities can be joined with glass. While not currently an active initiative, if your group has relations in Israel we would be happy to be part of a coordinated project. Imagine your community and your sister city in Israel making glass mosaics on the same day and exchanging the finished work. The Judaica will always be a reminder of your community's connection to Israel and vice versa.
As part of their Bar and Bat mitzvah experiences, more than 200 children in 11 Jewish communities, representing 11 U.S. states, created more than 260 yads through the Hiddur Mitzvah Project as part of the Masorti Olami/World Council of Conservative Synagogues Project L’Chayim. The effort raised more than $25,000 for Masorti/Conservative Jewish education programs in Argentina, Germany, Ukraine and other countries in Europe. The students who made the yads donated their own money to participate.
In March, 2004, proceeds from the Hiddur Mitzvah Project were used to send a rabbi to Uganda to conduct Purim services for the Abayudaya, a small African community that converted to Judaism 90 years ago. In order to sponsor a Purim celebration, Gary donated GRC groggers to the community in Uganda and arranged for Rabbi Joseph Prouser of Little Neck Jewish Center, NY, to travel to Africa with his family to lead the celebrations there. The program was funded through The Hiddur Mitzvah Project and was a great success.
Sarah Rockford was a very ambitious sixth grader who created 60 one-of-a-kind candlesticks and hand-rolled candles. In June, 2005, Sarah, with family and friends, made a glass mosaic which was sent to the GRC. In July, Sarah and her mother arrived to finish the artwork.
In time for Rosh Hashanah, half of the candlestick sets were sent to Denver, where Sarah lives, and the other half were sent to the Ukrainian Jewish communities of Chernigov and Priluki, near where Sarah's grandfather, a holocaust survivor, was born in Poland.
In 2003, Emily Dubois, 17, in Palo Alto, California was moved by the memory of the 1.5 million children lost during the Holocaust. She decided to gather 1.5 million pennies in memory and to give the money to families who affected by terrorism.
Gary bought one thousand of Emily's pennies for $1 each and invited her to fly to the studio where she helped Gary melt the pennies down with a torch. They were transformed into an eternal light, donated to a congregation in the former Soviet Union. The GRC also donated a Torah to occupy the ark under the eternal light and funds for the Torah education of young European children who might study in sanctuaries reclaimed from the Nazis.
Occasionally we will host fundraisers at the Gary Rosenthal Collection studio with local organizations. The members of the organization will pay a small fee, such as $20 to the organization and then Gary will give them a tour of the place and match that $20 with a coupon towards any pieces purchased that day. While here, the group also has the opportunity to create their own sculpture through the Hiddur Mitzvah Project.
Cuban Jewish Relief Project of B'nai B'rith launched an initiative to provide a piece of Judaica, in particular a mezuzah, to every Jewish home in Cuba. Gary has assisted in this effort, making the project even more meaningful by using the Hiddur Mitzvah Project to help make the mezuzot.
Over 100 sixth and 8th graders in DC worked on this project.