Community joins for Martin Luther King Jr. Day service event at Mt. Laurel’s Adath Emanu-El

The event was The Sisterhood of Adath Emanu-El’s third annual “Day of Tikkun Olam.”

Young Mt. Laurel resident Remmi Mathason, age 6, helps make cards for hospitalized children during Adath Emanu-El’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day service event.

In Judaism, the phrase “Tikkun olam” effectively translates to “repairing the world.”

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, that concept was in full force at Adath Emanu-El synagogue in Mt. Laurel, when members of different faiths and backgrounds came together for a day of service.

The event marked The Sisterhood of Adath Emanu-El’s third annual “Day of Tikkun Olam,” with about 200 volunteers packing the synagogue for a few hours to complete 19 service projects benefiting 13 charities.

The event featured a wide range of activities, from assembling sandwiches for the homeless, to making cards for hospitalized children, to drawing pictures for senior citizens and veterans, to crafting bracelets and bookmarks for Alzheimer’s patients to even just cutting coupons for food pantries.

“There is something for everyone, and that’s what we love about it,” said Caryn Shaw, event organizer and Sisterhood member.

Shaw, who describes herself as passionate about community service work, said she began organizing the event three years ago under the Sisterhood as a way to provide kids with a positive outlet when off from school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Shaw said she believes when kids learn about community service and giving back at a young age, those kids become more likely to carry those values into their adult lives.

Khaleel, age 4, helps his sister Nadia, age 7, create bookmarks for Alzheimer’s patients.

Shaw said with many senior citizens at home during Martin Luther King Jr. Day as well, and many parents also taking the day off to be with their children, the event simply provides another opportunity to honor King’s ideals.

“It’s just a nice way to get the community together doing good for the community,” Shaw said.

With the event now in its third year, Shaw said the annual day has continued to grow, along with the response from the public.

“People really just enjoy sitting down and doing community service and talking to other people and having that connection,” Shaw said.

Also on hand to help with the volunteer efforts was Karen Federman-Ellner, chair of the Sisterhood’s Social Action Committee that also worked to organize the event.

As with Shaw, Federman-Ellner spoke to the value of getting the public to give back to the charitable organizations within the community.

She also said it was just great to be able to work with her hands and make something such as a lollipop bouquet for hospice patients or dog treats and cat toys for animals at the county shelter.

“We have people from different faiths here, and people invited their friends, and it’s nice that everyone can meet with strangers and make things,” Federman-Ellner said. “It’s like my favorite day ever.”