Jewish Journal


May 3, 2012

Big Sunday weekend’s bar mitzvah year


Big Sunday volunteer's at work in May 2010. Photos by Joel Lipton

Big Sunday volunteer's at work in May 2010. Photos by Joel Lipton

Its thirteenth year, Big Sunday, the Mitzvah Day that has grown into a full weekend of volunteer opportunities, takes place this weekend, May 4, 5 and 6. Last year some 50,000 people showed up to participate in community service projects throughout California, according to Big Sunday organizers, and a similar number are expected to participate again this year.

The projects “bring people together and make people feel good about themselves and each other,” said David Levinson, founder and executive director of Big Sunday, an independent nonprofit.

Big Sunday Weekend originated at Temple Israel of Hollywood in 1999. In 2006, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined in to sponsor it as an official city event. In 2010, Big Sunday expanded its reach outside of Los Angeles to San Diego, and in 2011 into San Francisco., when it also became a three-day event.

Interested in participating?  This year’s projects include rehabilitating a home with Habitat for Humanity, painting schools, delivering meals to the elderly and lending a hand at dog rescues. Sign up for these and more at bigsunday.org.

You can also help out at experiential projects, such as chaperoning a tour of the Hammer Museum for runaway kids or a boat ride in Long Beach for veterans.

Around the city, concerts, book fairs and blood drives will take place, and the Big Sunday Chillout Express, a luxury party bus emphasizing the importance of unity over nose-to-the-grindstone service, offers rides around the city. To join one of these rides requires just a donation of new underwear and socks, which will go to the developmentally disabled.

As this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, the projects also take on a special resonance, Levinson said.

“It seems apropos of the riots that we are really committed to bringing people together and trying to find a place for everyone to pitch it and make our world a better place.”

For more information, visit bigsunday.org.

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