September is here. As the air starts to turn slightly crisper and people’s minds turn to back-to-school, autumn foods, and sports, one shul in Silver Spring, Maryland decided to focus on an often-overlooked mitzvah of Hiddur Mitzvah. Members of Southeast Hebrew Congregation in the White Oak community of Silver Spring gathered together to beautify their shul. Families came throughout the day to lend a hand and help with the efforts. And thanks to a generous donation, the volunteers enjoyed a hot lunch to nourish their bodies as they shone in this mitzvah.
Rabbi Mordechai Rhine, the Rav of the Shul, remarked, “[the Torah] says that Yehoshua was recognized for his endearment to Torah. He studied it with devotion and he readied the Beis Medrash and made it look welcoming and attractive. It is so gratifying to see the Kehilla’s devotion to the mitzvah of Zeh Kayli V’Anvayhu, both in Kovay’a Itim and in valuing the appearance of the Shul.” Indeed, men, women, and children of all ages gathered together to tackle beautification initiatives: scrubbing the decks, raking leaves, cutting back foliage, clearing up unkempt areas, and even electrical work.
At many points throughout the day there were more volunteers than work to do, a tribute to Southeast members’ love for their Shul. Among the many participants were Dr. Avi Mandell and two of his children, Jonah and Micah. Dr. Mandell commented: “I really appreciated participating in the cleanup day alongside my children. It was a wonderful opportunity to provide a tangible example of Chesed that children can both enjoy and see the benefit of. And they were great helpers; they loved carrying yard waste and helping rake leaves.”
The Shul is regularly maintained through the tireless efforts of Shul members Mr. Brent Sharf and Mr. Yehuda Katz. Rabbi Rhine met with them to determine how members could get more involved and came up with this project. After a long day’s work, Mr. Sharf noted that “[the volunteers] did an outstanding job and I am so proud of them. We have many gifted people contributing their skills to help the Shul succeed.”
Edited by Mrs. Rachel Musicante