Doing community service has become a rite of passage for Jews of all ages. The "do-good" trend starts with preschoolers toting gently used toys to distribute to disadvantaged children. It continues with Bar and Bat Mitzvah teenagers, whose social-action projects are now required at most synagogues, and with college students opting for spring break and summer excursions to help post-flood New Orleans or developing communities in Latin America and Africa.
As the needs increase in our world, so, too, do the opportunities to give back. But while every act of giving matters, rarely do we have the ability to come out en masse to make a difference in our own community. Mitzvah Mania provides that chance.
Now in its third year, the Federation-sponsored concept of recruiting volunteers to spread out across the region on a particular day clearly strikes a chord. Thousands of area Jews -- young and old -- have already registered to engage in such projects as winterizing homes for seniors, adopting a family for Chanukah gift-giving and helping clean up Philadelphia's Morris Park.
Tzedakah has been a central Jewish value since time immemorial. It's a value -- indeed, a mitzvah -- that we all must embrace.
Roll up your sleeves and find a project. You won't be alone.