Mitzvah Man Auction 2014

Do you ever think about why we are here, on this earth? Ask your friends; I bet at least one of them answers, “To give,” though others may not. That was the Mitzvah Man’s answer, when he began to think about his purpose, years ago, before this organization ever existed. We function daily, we work, we keep our houses tidy and running, we go from day to day dealing with problems of all shapes and sizes. We rest, we celebrate, we mourn, and the circle of life continues. Through it all, we create bonds. I believe the way we do that is through giving.
When the Mitzvah Man founder heard about a family living in their car, he was floored. “It was just heart wrenching for me,” he explained. “Imagine a couple and their two children sleeping, eating and functioning out of the small space we squirm in if we have to go more than an hour away? You really can’t understand the depth of these people’s pain and suffering until you see it with your own eyes.”

Baruch Hashem, the Mitzvah Man’s task force got to work. Through their volunteers and services this family was put up in a hotel for two weeks until better arrangements could be made. Finally, a kind-hearted soul from our community offered his home, rent-free for one year. Along with that came assorted large and small appliances. Soon clothing, footwear and many everyday needs began to arrive. This presented a much-needed opportunity for a struggling couple to grow and rise up. We are happy to report that six months later this family is back up on their feet, working and doing beautifully, thanks to the Mitzvah Man.

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This year, the Mitzvah Man’s 4th Annual Chinese Auction took place at Maggie and David Bawabeh’s home. The outpouring of generosity was a testament to this beautiful family who truly exemplify hesed, and a cause that does its best to multiply it ten thousand fold. When the crowd arrived on Wednesday evening Michael Cohen, founder of the Mitzvah Man, opened his heart and shared the story of the beginning of this multifaceted organization. It started simply, with visits to the sick and kind favors to people in need during his spare time. Sometimes it was a ride to a doctor, a bulb that needed replacing, or assistance putting on tefilin in the morning. No job was too big or small, but quickly one soul in need became 10, 20 and 100. Fortunately, where there is need, there will be volunteers. This community is incredible, and this one-man show grew as quickly as the problems that needed tending. A force that started with one volunteer soon manifested itself into an army of over 1,900 soldiers, all giving of themselves to help anyone and everyone in need.

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As a backdrop to the evening, there was a beautiful photo display of the many volunteers in action, along with food by Nicole Shammah, wine and a beautiful auction. Playing throughout was a spectacular video of hands-on hesed through the eyes of both volunteers and clients. It quickly became clear that whether the giver or the receiver, these mitzvot have changed their lives.
Rabbi Joey Haber topped off the afternoon with over 200 women listening raptly to his words. “There is nothing like the feeling of putting a smile on someone’s face. I want to thank Mitzvah Man, not for what he does and the hesed that people receive, but for turning 1,800 community members into hesed machines. And for giving them the opportunity to see life and experience life as someone who does…”

Today, reaching volunteers is easy. Texting, Facebook and Instagram can create hesed opportunities all around us, and there is truly something for everyone. This week three autistic teens volunteered to do hesed. Mitzvah Man explained, “Hesed is real, tangible and do-able. Everyone can help in their own way either monetarily, or through volunteering time, goods or services. Every day acts of kindness for those in need are diamonds for those who rely on the Mitzvah Man for assistance. It has been said that those who survived the sinking of the Titanic could not rely on the huge ship to rescue them—it was the little tiny rowboat that saved them in the end. Michael is carrying the oars, but he needs more people to row. A simple act of kindness goes beyond comprehension.
Another touching story occurred when a 95-year-old blind client had a volunteer visiting. The mitzvah girl realized that a woman like this, living alone was in grave danger should anything unexpected happen at home. She thought about it and decided that a voice activated, hands free telephone might keep this woman safe. It was a simple expense that was generously donated, but in the end, it literally saved her life.

This woman lives alone and has no family and no aid—nothing. When she woke up one evening with pains in her chest, she yelled into her phone, “Hatzalah!” Hatzalah came within minutes, and brought her straight to Maimonides Hospital. When Mitzvah Man was alerted, volunteers reached community contacts in the ER and set her up with the best doctors and care. The woman had in fact had a heart attack. As soon as she was released, a private ambulance was arranged, and volunteers were waiting at her doorstep to carry her up to her apartment. Baruch Hashem, she is doing wonderfully.
Each one of us has the potential to create our very own storybook of hesed. We all have it in us; we just have to let it out. Giving is an incredible feeling. It is amazing, uplifting and inspiring. Join the force and be a part of our team. For more info please visit our website atthemitzvah-man.org, or call our hotline 1(866) 355-1825.

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