Yad B'Yad (Hand in Hand): Family

Mitzvah Program


Subject: Family Mitzvah Program

Target: All Congregational Families

Time Frame: Throughout October - July, with each program lasting 2-3 hours

Congregation: Shaare Emeth

Contributor: Ronnie Brockman, Family Educator


Yad B’Yad  consists of 6 different Mitzvah projects that integrate some of the congregational social action programs already being offered with new mitzvah projects.


The overall goal is for each family to continue doing mitzvah projects after this program is completed.  In particular Yad B’Yad:

  • integrates families’ lives with mitzvah projects that can stand alone and can be continued  by a family long after the program is over.
  • provides opportunities for families to decide on different ways their family can participate in doing a mitzvah.
  • creates a program that reaches out to the families in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Experience.
  • provides more opportunities for intergenerational programs.
  • encourages families to become more involved in the congregation’s social action programs.


Families participate in activities relating to the mitzvot of Bikur Cholim, Hiddur P’nai Zaken, Hachnasat Orchim, Tzaar Baalei Chayim, V’ahavta L”reyaha Kemocha and Shemirat Shabbat.

Target Population

  • All congregational families
  • Concentration on 4th- 8th grade families highlighting the “Mitzvah” part of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Experience where “Doing Mitzvot” is emphasized.

Staff and Specialists

In order to create opportunities for congregational involvement there is a committee made up of interested families, people from the social action committee and other congregants who help plan and organize each Mitzvah Project.  A rabbi works with the Family Educator and committee to provide the necessary educational materials and teach the families when appropriate.  Appropriate staff from the different agencies are also involved.


Each project has different supplies.



  • Send brochures to the entire congregation with information about Yad B’Yad and how to sign up. 
  • Give out information on the High Holidays, at Religious School and Preschool.
  • Temple Bulletins

The Family Educator and Chair person for each project meet, discuss the project, call the agency, create the publicity and activities, buy the supplies and food.  They put together any handouts or educational materials.

Process for each Yad B’Yad program

All Mitzvah projects have the following components:
  • Group introduction to Mitzvah Project
    Text study, discussion, guest speaker, etc.
  • Family Activity
    Doing something as a family to prepare for their participation in the Group Activity either at the time of the project or prior to the day of the project.
  • Group Activity
    On the day of the project, the whole group participates in the given Mitzvah.  The group projects can be held at the synagogue as well as on site depending on the Mitzvah Project.
  • Complete a Family Diary Page
    Each Family gets a Diary and after each Mitzvah Project they complete a page
  • Family follow up activities they can do within the community
    After each Mitzvah Project, Families get a Community Guide with specific agencies, organizations, ideas, etc that will help them do follow up activities as a family or individual
  • Evaluation
    After each Mitzvah Project each family evaluates the project, activities, discussions, etc.

Program Activities

These programs can be done over a period of a few months and last from 2 to 3 hours.

Bikur Cholim - visiting the sick

Make activity bags, Halloween gifts and cookies for cancer patients. Because this is the start of the Mitzvah program, the importance of Mitzvot is discussed.                           

Hiddur Pinai Zaken – Esteeming the Elderly  

Visit Crown Center Retirement Home.  Make door decorations for Thanksgiving or Chanukah with residents, story, sing and share desserts together.

Hachnasat Orchim- Hospitality

Visit the Presbyterian Children’s Home.  Interact with residents, games, make door hangers, make guest bags with toiletries and school supplies to give to the residents, have ice cream social.

 Tzaar Baalei Chayim – Being Kind to Animals

Families make treats for primates, bring to zoo and have a zoo scavenger hunt for extinct animals.  Feed the animals and visit other areas of the zoo.

 V’ahavta L’reyaha Kemocha – Loving Ones Neighbor

Have a “community togetherness” Family Picnic. Plan a joint Family Picnic with Rock Church. Have games, entertainment, etc. Work with the church to plan this event.

Shemirat Shabbat – Observing Shabbat

Participate in a Teva Trek.  Families will hike, bring a picnic dinner, play games, have a havdalah service and celebrate Shabbat together.  


A few hundred dollars per program is sufficient.  The picnic requires added funding.


After each Mitzvah Project each family evaluates the project, activities, discussions, etc.

References and Resources


Doing Mitzvot: Mitzvah Projects for Bar/Bat Mitzvah by Kerry M. Olitsky and Bradley Shavit, KTAV

It’s A Mitzvah!; Step-by-Step to Jewish Living by Bradley Shavit  Artson. Berhman House;

Teaching Mitzvot: Concepts, Values and Activities
by Bruce Kadden, Barbara Binder Kadden, ARE