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Hazelwood cleanup
by Justin Jacobs
Associate Editor
Jul 07, 2011 | 713 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Rachel Clark, Elyse Heyman and Emily Unikel (left to right) volunteered in Beechview Park last August in Shalom Pittsburgh’s first project with Renew Pittsburgh. The second project is planned for July 10 in Hazelwood.(Photo Courtesy Shalom Pittsburgh)</i>
Rachel Clark, Elyse Heyman and Emily Unikel (left to right) volunteered in Beechview Park last August in Shalom Pittsburgh’s first project with Renew Pittsburgh. The second project is planned for July 10 in Hazelwood.(Photo Courtesy Shalom Pittsburgh)
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The annual Pittsburgh Mitzvah Day, organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, may be held around Christmas each year, but this Sunday it’s time to celebrate Christmas in July.

Shalom Pittsburgh, a branch of the Federation of Greater Pittsburgh that aims to connect Jewish young adults, paired with volunteer nonprofit Renew Pittsburgh for a mitzva event cleaning up the Lewis Playground in Hazelwood.

As part of Shalom Pittsburgh’s Mitzvah Division, this weekend’s cleanup is just one of a series of year-round mitzva events. The cleanup will begin Sunday, July 10, at 1 p.m. and stretch until 3 p.m. at the playground off Second Avenue — 885, between Berwick and Minden streets.

Activities will include cleaning and painting, and refreshments will be provided.

Many Jews in Pittsburgh are familiar with the mitzva of tzedaka, but the cleanup appeals to people because it is more hands-on.

“There are only a few hands on mitzvas that people can take part in in the community,” said Becca Tobe, Young Adult Division director at the Federation. “People like to see tangible results of their volunteer time.”

Renew Pittsburgh is an all-volunteer organization that promotes renewal in the city, organizing efforts such as this Sunday’s cleanup to help rebuild Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

“It’s all about community empowerment. This is a neighborhood in the city that’s been decimated, but there are groups of residents who are fighting for their neighborhood,” said Renew Pittsburgh Executive Director Kevin Acklin. “This project is about showing them that we support what they do everyday.”

Tobe said she expects about 15 people to come on behalf of Shalom Pittsburgh, including full families, as the cleanup is open to children ages 5 and above.

“A lot of families are looking to show their children the meaning of mitzvas and helping in the community,” said Tobe.

Shalom Pittsburgh’s Mitzvah Division holds about four similar events a year in addition to Mitzvah Day each December.

“The idea is just to get Jewish people together helping other people,” said Tobe, “whether that’s helping other Jews or not.”

(Justin Jacobs can be reached at justinj@thejewishchronicle.net.)

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