Mitzvah Day receives the Big Society award from the office of the Prime Minister of England
The month of November is known in the British Jewish community for its annual celebration of Mitzvah Day. On Mitzvah Day, the organization Mitzvah Day International, founded by Laura Marks, partners globally with other agents for change to lead charity initiatives. Their efforts in the past have included donation drives, packing and distributing necessities to the needy, blood drives, nature cleanings, and much more.
Laura Marks, the founder of Mitzvah Day in England, is originally from North West London, where she attended University College London. Marks founded Mitzvah Day in 2005. She explains that the idea came about from her time in Los Angeles. During her stay there, she became familiar with the concept of a Mitzvah day through her congregation, Temple Israel of Hollywood Synagogue. Marks brought the initiative back to the UK and established Mitzvah Day, originally associated with the Jewish Community Center for London. In 2008, the organization was registered as an independent charity in the United Kingdom. In 2012, it was renamed Mitzvah Day International, as the organization’s efforts had expanded to regions in North and South America, Europe, South Africa, and beyond.
In 2011, Mitzvah Day International received the Big Society Award from the office of the Prime Minister of England. In addition, the organization has received endorsements from figures such as Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Tony Blair, the archbishop of Canterbury, and Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Jonathan Sacks. Today, Mitzvah Day is the United Kingdom’s largest faith-based day of social action.
Marks has been a leading member of the British Jewish community for over a decade, serving as founder and chair of the commission on Women and Jewish Leadership. In 2016, she was appointed chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. In 2020, Marks relaunched the Alliance of Jewish Women and their Organisations. She has served as a trustee on the boards of the Jewish Leadership Council and the Commonwealth Jewish Council and as the Senior Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Marks has sat on the board of the Jewish News and is a frequent commentator for various media outlets, including Jewish News, the BBC, HuffPost, and The Times of Israel.
In 2017 Marks co-founded Nisa-Nashim, an interfaith network that aims to connect Jewish and Muslim women through empowerment. She has become a regular speaker at interfaith events, and in 2019 was appointed to the Mayor of London’s Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion committee.
“Laura Marks.” Wikipedia.com. Last updated 27 July 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Marks
Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing St. “Mitzvah Day wins Prime Minister's Big Society Award.” Gov.uk. November 30, 2011, https://web.archive.org/web/20131203005353/https://www.gov.uk/government/news/mitzvah-day-wins-prime-ministers-big-society-award
“Vision & Mission.” Mitzvah Day. Accessed September 25, 2022 https://mitzvahday.org.uk/
“About Nisa-Nashim." NisaNashim.org, accessed September 25, 2022, https://www.nisanashim.org/about/the-team.html
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Mitzvah Day receives the Big Society award from the office of the Prime Minister of England ." (Viewed on December 2, 2023) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/nov/30/2011/mitzvah-day-receives-big-society-award-office-prime-minister-england>.