One Saturday morning after our Farber Leadership Group session in 2010, I was having brunch before services. Rabbi Judy took a seat beside me, and while in casual conversation popped the question, Would you like to co-chair Mitzvah Day next year? I had been in Charlotte only four years and really didn’t know anything about Mitzvah Day, but hey, how do you say no to a rabbi? That’s where my Mitzvah Day story begins, and it has been an amazing journey ever since.
Putting Mitzvah Day together with another co-chair was an arduous task. There were so many things to do and so many parts to coordinate, but it was all worth it. I met a lot of people and got to be a part of something big…something that extended into the greater Charlotte community and would touch the lives of many. It made me proud to be Jewish and to know that my synagogue, Temple Beth El, understood that the needs in the community were large enough that it needed to rally its congregants to do some good.
After my year as co-chair, I went on to be captain of single projects, but the project that has been closest to my heart is the Hebrew Cemetery project. Honoring the deceased and those who have come before us couldn’t be more profound and meaningful to me. Cleaning headstones and tidying up the grounds where those who have passed on reside is one of the greatest mitzvahs to me, and doing these things alongside my fellow congregants, adults and children alike, is life-changing. Death is solemn, but the words on the headstones at the Hebrew Cemetery remind us all that where there is death, there was meaningful and vibrant life, and we must ultimately celebrate those lives—what a powerful lesson that is so fit for Mitzvah Day.
Celebrate your life. Be a part of something big. Be a part of Mitzvah Day. It is a day for the community. It is a day for you. It is a time to reflect. It is a time to help. It is a time to make a difference. It is a time to live, to be vibrant, and to be meaningful.
Jill Lipson grew up in New Orleans where she was a part of a southern and close-knit Jewish community. She moved to Charlotte in 2006 after living almost two decades in the Maryland/D.C. area. She and her husband Marc have one son Spencer who is 14. Jill is the director of Senior and Adult Services at the Levine Jewish Community Center.