Community Groups Come Together for #MitzvahMask

We are pleased to announce that we have officially launched the #MitzvahMask project, in collaboration with Temple Sholom’s Tikun Olam Gogos and the local non-profit Canask. These organizations are working together to provide masks for our entire Jewish community. With the need for everyone to wear masks expected to continue for months to come, this collaboration has become increasingly important.

Organizers of Jewish Federation’s Mask Project, spearheaded by community leader and devoted volunteer Michelle Gerber, put out a call to the community for people who could sew and for general volunteers, and received a huge response almost immediately. Since starting this project, Michelle and her nanny, Marivic, have created more than 700 masks, which were donated to Jewish Family Services (JFS). This enabled JFS to provide each of their frontline workers and volunteers with two reusable masks.

Michelle continues to play a key role in planning and coordinating this community collaboration. Not only is she an incredibly motivated volunteer leader in our community, she is a dedicated philanthropist and provided a generous donation to cover the cost of mask-making supplies.

“Michelle is a mensch of the highest order,” said Ayelet Cohen Weil, Jewish Federation’s director of community engagement. “She did not want us to kvell in public, but we insisted. Our community is safer and closer because of her motivation, humility and grace.”

Tikun Olam Gogos (T.O.G. for short), established under the sponsorship of the Sisterhood of Temple Sholom, is a chapter of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. For a decade, T.O.G. has tirelessly raised funds and awareness for the millions of grandmothers in Africa who are currently contending with two pandemics: HIV/AIDS and COVID-19.

While sheltering in place, T.O.G. members have directed their skills to mask making in the double mitzvah of giving to the local community while continuing to support their partners in Africa. Over the past three months they have distributed hundreds of handcrafted masks throughout the Lower Mainland and beyond. We are grateful for the advice, sewing expertise, and the 10,000+ hand-cut filters they bring from Temple Sholom to our #MitzvahMask collaboration.

Canask is a non-profit organization that was launched in March 2020. The founding directors are passionate about helping people and local organizations cope with the impact of COVID-19. Their focus is to help bridge the gap between need and the availability of personal protective equipment. Jacob Moss, Canask’s director of records, is a young adult who is also a member of the Jewish community. When our organizations found each other, at just the perfect moment, we knew the collaboration was beshert. Working together, we have provided 500 reusable masks to our own JCC for their reopening, and 900 masks to the BC Cancer Volunteer Drivers Organization. We are now working on our next batch of orders to assist partner agencies serving seniors in our community.

For the #MitzvahMask initiative, Canask has contributed a significant amount of mask-making supplies and will be providing sewing kits to any volunteer who fills in their form.  

Start sewing with us today!
Can you sew but just need materials? We can provide mask sewing kits for free.

Fill out this Canask form for a free mask-making kit and be sure to include the word #MitzvahMask in the notes section, so your sewing kit will be delivered as soon as possible.

The kit will be delivered to your home and will include instructions to coordinate pickup of the completed masks when you are ready. Canask will notify us when you have completed the form, so that we can distribute the finished masks to the Jewish community.