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Local Temple Makes Teddy Bears to Donate
February 19, 2007  

BLOOMINGTON -- Members of the Moses Montefiore Temple formed a knitting circle for a good cause Sunday as part of their annual Mitzvah Day celebration. Congregation members used needles and hooks to create teddy bears for the international Mother Bear Project, which sends the toys to children in developing nations who have lost their parents to AIDS.

Myra Gordon, co-chair of Mitzvah Day and a Normal resident, said she got the idea when she noticed something peculiar while visiting a relative. "When I went to visit my aunt in Tennessee, I saw that she had 14 teddy bears on her couch," Gordon said. "We started talking about it, and they have a group at their temple who do this on a regular basis, and I thought it was a neat idea because it's one of the projects that you can get people of all ages together for. "Anybody from a 7-year-old to a 77-year-old can get into it."

The contributions to the Mother Bear Project were just one of the many events scheduled for Mitzvah Day by the temple, located at 102 Robinhood Lane, Bloomington. Other activities included putting together care packages for Jewish soldiers in Iraq, baking animal treats for Central Illinois Small Animal Rescue, and having Sunday school students sing at Heritage Manor.

An ongoing project: No teddy bears are completed yet, but the congregation has decided to meet at least once a month in order to help finish, as some members may be a little rusty with their knitting skills. "There aren't any goals set concerning numbers of bears that we are going to make because it's all about having fun and getting the generations together on a cold, winter day," Gordon said. The social aspect of the bear-making project was welcomed by congregation members.

"I think it's a great project," said Lisa Jane Kroutil-Baun of Bloomington. "One of my girlfriends saw this in my temple newsletter and now she's doing it at her temple."

"It's social, we're learning a new skill and we get to talk all at the same time, which is perfect for women," said Lynn Gross of Bloomington resident. Gordon said the work for the Mother Bear Project fits in well with the theme of MitzvahDay, as "mitzvah" means good deeds. "We try to get lots of people focused on doing good deeds all in one day, and to call attention to local needs in the community," she said. "There is an idea in Judaism called 'tikkun olam,' which means repair of the world. The idea is that individually no one can repair the world, but working together, each of us can do our part."



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