"By repairing and rehabilitating homes of Jewish seniors in need, volunteers also connect the homeowners to the larger community and help ease their isolation," says Hilary Bayer. Bayer, together with Tamar Silberberg and Yoav Shiffman, chair the project Rebuilding Together Philadelphia, a centerpiece of Mitzvah Mania 2008, the second annual day of social action sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. On Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., thousands of community volunteers will work on projects that emphasize Federation's critical priorities -- alleviating poverty and enhancing the dignity of seniors and families in need in the Jewish community.
Volunteer Alyx Shore, who is involved with the Rebuilding Together Philadelphia project, sees Mitzvah Mania as an opportunity "to bring unity to our community, as people show their commitment to giving back."
Project co-chair Yoav Shiffman echoes this sentiment. "The Philadelphia Jewish community is made of caring people," he notes. "We encourage families and people of all ages to get involved in a Mitzvah Mania project!"
"Mitzvah Mania, and the Rebuilding Together Philadelphia project specifically, are amazing ways to improve the daily living conditions of fellow Jews in our community," comments Silberberg, who is excited that members of the Jewish Federation Real Estate Division have once again committed time, talent and resources to Mitzvah Mania.
The Real Estate Division, which includes professionals from all aspects of the real estate field and the nonprofit Rebuilding Together Philadelphia are partnering for the second year, to repair, maintain and rebuild 11 homes in Northeast Philadelphia. JFRE, a major sponsor of Mitzvah Mania 2008, has committed to raising funds for building materials used in the homes.
Rebuilding Together Philadelphia is an independent affiliate of Rebuilding Together, Inc., an organization that helps seniors and people at risk of poverty maintain their homes. The JFRE executive team, senior advisors and their families will join community volunteers in painting hallways, repairing cracks in walls, sealing drafty windows and installing energy-efficient light bulbs.
"This project makes Federation's priorities real -- volunteers actually see the great needs in our community -- and are able to make real improvements," observes Gregg Wallace, a JFRE executive team member.
Bill Glazer, another executive team member, says the JFRE project exemplifies "pure philanthropy. It combines tzedakah and tikkun olam; volunteers get to see the results of donor dollars through their own good deeds."
Additional Mitzvah Mania volunteer opportunities include the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and the Fairmount Park project.
Synagogues and Jewish community organizations are also hosting projects in neighborhoods throughout the five-county area. Families and groups of volunteers will take seniors grocery shopping, make friendly visits to the homebound elderly in Federation Housing apartments and make no-sew blankets.
Community volunteers will also pitch in to beautify the grounds of the Lassin Early Learning Center at the JCCs Klein Branch and Politz Hebrew Academy.
In addition, volunteers will help Rhawnhurst NORC seniors winterize their homes by sealing drafty doors and windows, and assist with other household tasks.
For additional information on all Mitzvah Mania projects and to register, visit: www.jewishphilly.org/mitzvahmania  or call the Mitzvah Mania Hotline at 215-832-0564.
On Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Mitzvah Mania headquarters can be found at the JCCs Klein Branch, 10100 Jamison Avenue, in Northeast Philadelphia.