Sign In Forgot Password

Mitzvah of the Month

The Temple B’nai Abraham Social Action Committee continues the spirit of Mitzvah Day/Week throughout the year with a Mitzvah of the Month.
Each month, congregant families will have an opportunity to help families and individuals in Essex County who find themselves in need during the pandemic.
Janet O. Penn & Ruth Ross
TBA Social Action Committee Co-chairs
At a time when the community is suffering, no one should say, “I will go home, eat, drink, and be at peace with myself.  – Babylonian Talmud Taanit, 11a.

December 2023 Mitzvah of the Month

Baked Ziti or Lasagna for Our Neighbors

For December 2023, TBA congregant families are asked to contribute a pan of meatless baked ziti or spinach lasagna to ease the food insecurity faced by our Essex County neighbors. This is a wonderful family activity for your children and grandchildren.

Drop off at the Temple Tuesday, December 19; Wednesday, December 20; and Thursday, December 21, 9:00 AM–3:30 PM.

Registration is required so we know how many pans of ziti to expect and can plan transport of the food to those in need accordingly. Please email Janet Penn or Ruth Ross to register your participation.

Use your favorite Meatless Baked Ziti recipe, but if you want to try a very simple one, use the recipe below. If you’d rather make a 10-minute Spinach Lasagna, use the easy recipe below.

PLEASE WEAR GLOVES AND MASKS WHILE PREPARING MEALS. Please cover the baking pan with lots and lots of aluminum foil to secure it safely for transport.


A tray of food on a counter

Description automatically generated





1 (16 ounce) package ziti

1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese

1 (24 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce

1 (8 ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

½ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated or from the jar

1 13x9 inch heavy duty tinfoil baking pan*

Heavy duty tinfoil to cover for transport*


Step 1: Preheat oven to 375° F.

Step 2: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook ziti in boiling water until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 13 minutes; drain. Rinse ziti with cold water until cool; drain.

Step 3: Mix ricotta cheese, 1 ½ cups spaghetti sauce, 2/3 of the mozzarella cheese, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add ziti. Mix well.

Step 4: Spread ½ cup spaghetti sauce over the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch disposable baking tin. Pour ziti mixture into the tin. Top with remaining 1 ½ cup spaghetti sauce, Parmesan cheese and the rest of the shredded mozzarella cheese.

Step 5: Bake in preheated oven until sauce and cheese layer is bubbly and lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Step 6: Let ziti cool for 10 minutes before covering the baking pan with lots and lots of heavy-duty aluminum foil or lid to secure it safely for transport. Refrigerate if necessary.

NOTE: If you like, you can add chopped spinach to your baked ziti. See the directions for lasagna below.

A plate of food with a fork

Description automatically generated




1 (24 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (any flavor) — you may need another ½ jar
9 no-boil lasagna
 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt, ½ tsp pepper, garlic or onion powder to taste
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (10 ounce) package of frozen chopped spinach thawed (or use the microwavable steam-in-bag)   
Dried Italian spice
1/3 cup
Parmesan cheese, freshly-grated or from the jar

1 13x9 inch heavy duty tinfoil baking pan*

Heavy duty tinfoil to cover for transport*


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°F.

Step 2: Squeeze the spinach by hand or in a paper towel to remove water. Combine the spinach with the ricotta cheese, 1 egg, salt/pepper/garlic or onion powder, and 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.

Step 3: Spread 1/3 of spaghetti sauce evenly across the bottom of the pan.

Step 4: On top of the sauce in the bottom of the pan, layer 3 lasagna noodles, followed by half the ricotta cheese/mozzarella/spinach/egg mixture, 1/3 of the spaghetti sauce, and a good sprinkle of Italian spice. Be sure the sauce covers the noodles completely.

Step 5: Repeat with a second layer of noodles, ricotta mixture, and sauce. Be sure the sauce covers the noodles completely.

Step 6: Finish with a final layer of noodles, sauce, mozzarella, and Italian spices. Be sure the sauce covers the noodles completely.

Step 7: Add some water to the spaghetti sauce jar and swirl it around. Measure out a scant ½ cup and pour it AROUND the edges of the lasagna.

Step 8: Spray foil or cover with oil. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and begins to brown around the edges.

Step 9: Remove from oven and set on a cooling rack. If it looks a bit soupy, don’t worry; the noodles will absorb the extra liquid as it cools.
Step 10:
Let lasagna cool for 10 minutes before covering the baking pan covered with lots and lots of heavy-duty aluminum foil or lid to secure it safely for transport. Refrigerate if necessary.

*If you are looking for aluminum pans and sturdy aluminum covers in which to bake and transport your ziti or lasagna, these are available at Amazing Savings on Route 10.

Feeding the hungry is one of a Jew’s most important responsibilities on earth: “Providing charity for poor and hungry people weighs as heavily as all the other commandments of the Torah combined.”
Babylonian Talmud, Baba Batra 9a

Previous MOTMs

October 2023
TBA virtually hosted four families during the week of October 22. Family Promise (formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network) helps homeless and at-risk families by providing shelter, social services and housing assistance through a community-based approach.

September 2023
As is traditional, we collected packaged food during our High Holy Days food collection. 

August 2023
Diapers & Such We collected diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream, etc., so needy families and adults don’t have to forego food, rent, and other essentials to purchase these necessities.

June 2023
PBJ Sandwich Initiative with Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors
We helped LNHN to deliver sandwiches to St. Ann’s, St. Michael’s, and St. John’s churches in Newark.

May 2023
In partnership with Sisterhood—The Women’s Connection, congregants donated menstrual products, so women and girls don’t have to forego food and other necessities to care for their personal needs each month.

April 2023
Two collections provided hundreds of pounds of fresh vegetables for a food pantry (with help from Early School and JLP families) and groceries, supplies, and support for families helped by Family Promise (formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network). 

March 2023
Two collections provided paper goods for low income families (SNAP benefits do not cover them) and kosher for Passover foods for the Bobrow Kosher Food Pantry. 

February 2023
TBA congregant families contribute many pans of meatless baked ziti or spinach lasagna to ease the food insecurity faced by our Essex County neighbors. 

January 2023
Members generously donated 136 hats for adults and 50 children’s hats. Tara Ehrenkranz delivered them to Joi’s Angels to be distributed to homeless people during this cold winter.

December 2022
Members generously made dozens of pans of baked ziti  which were distributed by Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors to local families facing food insecurity. 

November 2022
Members of SAC participated in the Second Annual Journey for the Living Walk and exercise challenge to benefit the Mark Schonwetter Holocaust Education Foundation, which supports Holocaust education for students in schools around the country and provides funds necessary for educators to implement Holocaust curriculum into their lesson plans.

October 2022
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, SAC supported Comfort Project 360 by donating items for Barnabus Health's Comfort Cart, a mobile cart that delivers healthy snacks with a personal touch to patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, and Welcome Kits filled with items to soothe the body, mind and spirit.

June 2022
TBA congregants were so generous in June. First, some 20 families made homemade meals for Family Promise, formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network. A few weeks later, a collection of baby formula, cereal and food helped those dealing with food insecurity feed their children.

May 2022
The collection of fresh fruit and veggies helped folks get ready for Memorial Day Weekend. Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors distributed the produce to local shelters and other outlets helping those with food insecurity.

April 2022
Generous TBA congregants donated 3,300 menstual pads in packages of 28, 30, 32, and 36. Donations went to Grace Temple in Newark, Isaiah House in East Orange, and Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors to be taken to a church in Newark for distribution. Stacey Abenstein was the chair of this Mitzvah project. Sisterhood—The Women’s Connection partnered with the Social Action Committee on this project.

MOTM may 2022

March 2022
The March Mitzvah was a huge success. About 20 families made 50 trays of ziti and lasagne for local food pantries. 

February 2022 - TBA volunteers made PB&J lunches by the dozen for distribution to those facing food insecurity. 

TBA congregants showed up for this effort and knitted and crocheted and purchased so that kids, teens, and adults could stay warm: Grace Temple received 75 sets (hats, scarves, mittens — adults and kids); IMG_3437
Cleveland School, Newark, received 80 sets (kids);
Family Promise received 10 adult and 5 kids sets;
Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors received 300 sets; Isaiah House received 60 sets.


Members created snack bags, some with packets of instant cocoa, candy canes, and fruit. Others had a new pair of socks and maybe some cookies. These bags of holiday cheer were donated to Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors (LNHN), who then distributed them to St. Ann’s, St. John’s and St. Michael’s and St. Rocco’s Churches in Newark.

October 2021 Mitzvah: Keeping it Clean

A large collection of paper goods and household cleaning supplies were donated, even with the donation window shortened by inclement weather. The supplies were used by shelters and food kitchens in Newark. 


August 2021 Mitzvah: Diapers and Such

Members donated 2,800 disposable diapers, 730 baby wipes, 30 tubes of diaper cream, and 10 bottles of baby shampoo and body wash. The collection was sponsored by the TBA’s Social Action Committee, the TBA Early School and its Jewish Learning Program. These items were donated to Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors (LNHN), who delivered them to three churches in Newark – St. Ann’s, St. Michael’s and St. JHelenFarberTBA.jpgohn’s.

TBA member Helen Farber drops off her donation for August’s Mitzvah of the Month.


June 2021: 

Temple B’nai Abraham Social Action Committee co-chairs Janet Penn and Ruth Ross sort packages of feminine hygiene products collected, in partnership with the Sisterhood—The Women’s Connection, for the June Mitzvah of the Month. Over 5,400 sanitary napkins were donated. These products were distributed to Newark Emergency Services for Families (NESF) and to three churches in Newark through Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors (LNHN). 




Congregants made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and assembled breakfast/lunch bags filled with the sandwich, a pair of socks, a piece of fruit, and a snack. Over 450 bagged meals were delivered to four Newark churches by Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors. The JLP and Teen Tikkun Olam partnered with the Social Action Committee on this activity.

APRIL 2021: PRODUCE FOR POSITIVITY.  Temple B’nai Abraham’s congregants donated over 400 bags of vegetables and fruit—bagged potatoes, onions, carrots, apples, and oranges—to be delivered to food insecure residents of Essex County by Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Committee co-chairs Janet Penn and Ruth Ross estimated that, with an average of four pounds of produce in each bag, the total collected was around 1,600 pounds

March 2021: TBA congregant families contributed pans of meatless baked ziti to ease the food insecurity faced by our Essex County neighbors. Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors (LNHN) picked up the ziti meals from the Temple and delivered them to neighbors in Livingston and Newark.

February 2021: This collection secured warm hats for adults, teens and children, scarves, mittens, and gloves. Many, many bags were filled and Nick Santinelli from Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors (LNHN) came to TBA to collect the generously donated items for delivery to three churches in Newark for distribution. What a mitzvah!

Wed, November 29 2023 16 Kislev 5784