For Jews, the word mitzvah means 'giving of yourself.'

It's customary for congregations from synagogues around North America to celebrate their communities with a 'mitzvah' day, which involves the congregation going into the community to give of themselves.

Am Shalom Synagogue in Barrie, a community of 80 families, is now six years old.  Its rabbi, Ilyse Glickman, decided the time had come for Am Shalom to hold its first ever 'mitzvah' day, and she approached Ricki and Ron Mintz to spearhead the project.

The Mintz couple tossed around a few ideas, and then learned about the World Wildlife Fund's Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.  While the WWF project has large corporate funding, it's the idea of scooping up garbage and leaving gently lapping water in its place that appealed to the Mintz's.  And so, Barrie's First Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup will occur on the afternoon of September 18.

Barrie's is a busy waterfront that Sunday, with Terry Fox runners and a wheelchair rally all happening on the waterfront.

But from 1 to 4:30 pm, dozens of families will scope out their section of shoreline and gather up garbage.  A preliminary audit of the properties, from Southshore Community Centre through to Heritage Park, shows lots of cigarette butts, pop cans, food wrappers, garbage bags and simple refuse that's washing up to shore.

"We're dividing the area into workable sections and assigning committee members to take the lead in each area," says Ricki.  She also said this project is open to anyone, not just members of the Am Shalom community.  They will sign volunteer service hours for high school students who want to complete a number of hours.

The group has extended an invitation to the area muslim community as well as to families who'd be interested in a worthwhile group project.

Starting point is the Southshore Community Centre.  Celebration point at conclusion is the Kiwanis Picnic Shelter on the lower walkway just west of the Southshore.  Participants will gather there for a barbecue picnic.

This is certainly a worthwhile community project and Am Shalom extends its collective hand to anyone wanting to join the project.  Just email Ricki at rrmintz@rogers.com or call 705 735-6350 for inclusion.

Thanks, Ricki.  Thanks, Ron.  Thanks, Am Shalom!

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