Good Deeds Day project honors Jewish educator

Jessa Bradley-Bunkin at first wanted to pick out just the shiny glass pieces for her decoration, but then opted to add more color. (Photos by Hannah Monicken)

The girls agreed that this project was pretty cool.

“It’s like we get to make something, not just do something,” said Sophie Myers.

“Yeah, and it’s meaningful,” added Jessa Bradley-Bunkin.

The girls, students at Congregation Har Shalom’s religious school, were making mezuzot. Or, rather, decorating future mezuzot by gluing pieces of colored glass to plastic squares. They, in turn, will be melted into glass sheets that local Judaica artist Gary Rosenthal will use to decorate mezuzot he makes out of metal. It’s part of his Hiddur Mitzvah Project, which the Kensington-based Rosenthal said is about “beautifying Jewish ritual.”
For their Good Deeds Day project, Har Shalom religious school students used small glass pieces to decorate mezuzahs that will go to those in need.

Mezuzah making is one of the good deeds of the Potomac synagogue’s Good Deeds Day activities Sunday. The annual day of community service was organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

The mezuzot decorated by the fourth- through seventh-graders and finished by Rosenthal will be divvied up. Some will be used to decorate classrooms at the religious school. The rest will be given to people in need.

The religious school plans to decide next year who to send the mezuzot to as a follow-up to Sunday’s project, according to director of education Jennifer Newfeld.

The day had added meaning for Rachel Richter. She helped facilitate and fund the project in memory of her mother, Marian Richter, a longtime educator at Har Shalom. She said she wanted a project that would be engaging for kids and also important, “because that’s how she taught. My mom dedicated her life to Jewish education,” Richter said.

Sixth graders Devin Mishkin, left, and Jake Silverman show off their finished mezuzah decorations.

In decorating, the girls got creative. Sophie opted for rainbow coloring. Sela Wertlieb found a spectrum of blue glass. Jessa said she tried just “shiny,” but it “looked dull, so I added some rainbow and now it’s good.”

About 40 kids were on hand to decorate. A few parents and teachers got in on the fun. Gary Mishkin, father of sixth-grader Devin, tried to make his look like a tree.

As kids finished up, a few were reluctant to leave behind their new masterpieces.

“I wish I got to take it home with me,” Jessa said. “But it’s Good Deeds Day. I’ll take a picture.”

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  1. Beautiful article Hannah! We were thrilled you were able to attend. The kids did such an awesome job creating those mosaics! Marian would be honored. L’chaim!


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