Blog  NFTY-GER: The Impact of Urban Mitzvah Corps

NFTY-GER: The Impact of Urban Mitzvah Corps

By Lilly Waldorf, NFTY-GER member and Urban Mitzvah Corps Alumnus

Each night at Urban Mitzvah Corps this past summer, everyone would come together on the front lawn of our beautiful house and we would describe our days in one word. Each night, everyone would share different adjectives, phrases, or inside jokes so everyone could have an idea of what their day was like. Well, if I could describe my summer in one word to give you guys an idea of what mitzvah corps was like it would be inexplicable. Urban Mitzvah Corp was absolutely, inexplicably, the best decision I have ever made in my entire life.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Urban Mitzvah Corps is a program based out of New Brunswick, NJ on the Rutgers campus. For weeks we lived in a gorgeous sorority house, cooked meals together, joined in evening programs and Shabbat services, laughed, sang, cried etc. A typical day would involve waking up around 9:00 am, and getting ready to go to one of four job sites, Elijah’s Promise, a soup kitchen, Camp Daisy, a camp for disabled children and adults, Play S.A.F.E., a free day camp for the inter-city kids of New Brunswick, and Regency, an elderly home. I worked at Play S.A.F.E. and Elijah’s Promise. Play S.A.F.E. was definitely a unique experience for me. The director doesn’t turn away anyone so we ended up having 300 kids at our site, which was only equipped for about 150. Either way, we embraced everyday with an open mind and played board games, went outside, participated in a summer reading program, and danced together. Although challenging, my experience was made worth it when all 45 of my campers hugged me and cried on the last day, begging me not to go. Elijah’s was completely different than Play S.A.F.E but still extremely rewarding. We worked at the processing center, which is the place where they prepare the food to store and send off to the several partnerships they have including the Better World Café, Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen, and Meals on Wheels. This was also an extremely rewarding experience.

On the weekends, we would take trips to the beach, Connecticut, bowling, and help with Hurricane Sandy Relief. Although the work for Sandy Relief was hard and we were all sweating like never before, it was amazing to work together and feed off of each other’s energy in our desire to change the world. In the middle of the summer we went to the Religious Action Center in Washington D.C. where we had the opportunity to lobby to our congressmen about things that we were passionate about. This was one of the coolest parts of the program.

I would highly endorse Urban Mitzvah Corps to anyone who is thinking of doing it. Although this is just a short glimpse into what it was like, I could go on for hours about how it has impacted me. Not only does UMC teach you how beautiful and rewarding it can be to change the world, but I can guarantee you will walk away with friendships that will last forever, memories that you can look back at and smile, inside jokes that you will repeat over and over, some really cute pictures and an experience that 98% of the people you encounter won’t be as fortunate enough to experience. Urban Mitzvah Corps is truly unlike any other summer program, go be a part of UMC 2k14!

Urban Mitzvah Corps 2013

Want to be a part of a unique service-learning experience like Mitzvah Corps this summer? From New Jersey, to Costa Rica and all the way to Israel, there is definitely a Mitzvah Corps program for you. Learn more at