Political and religious leaders in Britain united to celebrate a Jewish day of kindness amid community tensions for both sides of the Israel-Gaza conflict.

As part of Mitzvah Day, Akshata Murty, the wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, joined Jewish and Muslim women in a project in 10 Downing Street to write Christmas cards for the staff at St John’s Hospice.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer volunteered at South Hampstead Synagogue, while Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey volunteered at his local synagogue in Kingston.

Mitzvah Day — a Jewish tradition where help and favours are done for others — brought 35,000 people together in taking part up and down the country.

A total of 450 organisations were involved in 2,000 projects that included food bank collections, care home visits, cooking for those in need, and litter picking.

“We were from many different faiths and backgrounds simply doing what we do best,” Mitzvah Day founder Laura Marks said. “That is focusing on our similarities and putting challenging differences to one side to help others.”

Laura was at Downing Street with the prime minister’s wife Akshata Murty, who both co-chair the Jewish-Muslim women’s network Nisa-Nashim.

Akshata said: “Rather than divide us, our different faiths can bring us together in our shared values of charity and care for others.”

They were joined by Rabbi Charley Baginsky and young Jewish activist Laurie Shone, along with social worker Ahmereen Reza, campaigner Elizabeth Arif-Fear and community cohesion expert Hadiya Masieh from the Muslim community.

Keir Starmer, a long-term Mitzvah Day supporter, visited South Hampstead Synagogue to volunteer for a collection to support the homeless.

He said: “This year, felt more acutely than previous years, the core values of Mitzvah Day - the belief that the world can be a better place through social action and working together - shine a light of hope in this time of darkness.”

The Labour leader was joined by Rabbi Shlomo Levin and the leader of north London's Progressive Jewish community Rabbi Josh Levy. They packed items for the JW3 foodbank in Finchley Road, joined by Muslim campaigner Julie Siddiqi, Imam Ibrahim Mogra and The Rev Julie Gittoes.

Mitzvah Day chief executive Stuart Diamond said: “Organisations and volunteers took part in this time of division, pain, anger and sadness.”

The “power” of Mitzvah Day puts Jewish values into action by creating and developing connections across faiths which organisers say is “now more important than ever” at a time of Middle East crisis.

‘Mitzvah Day’ events in north London and Hertfordshire included:

Muswell Hill Synagogue joined with Wightman Road Mosque and other faith communities food collection outside Crouch End Sainsbury’s.

Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue day of activities included seniors’ tea and entertainment from a Buddy Holly tribute act and visit from Harrow’s MP Bob Blackman.

Jewish Care’s Betty and Asher Loftus Centre in Friern Barnet had a visit from 55 young people from the Cross-Community Zone Programme to meet residents from three care homes.

Children at Southgate Progressive Synagogue’s Ruach Religion School took on sponsored tasks in return for items for the Enfield Foodbank.

Channel 4’s Countdown star Rachel Riley joined pupils at South Hampstead High School collecting for Sebby’s Corner charity, which supports families in need and for the JW3 Foodbank.

Jews, Muslims and Hindus joined together at one of Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue’s Mitzvah Day events including cooking soup for a night shelter for the homeless.

Volunteers at Jewish Care’s Michael Sobell Community Centre in Golders Green packed gift bags for Camp Simcha’s World Prematurity Day hospital deliveries.

Young and old got involved in litter picking and in food collection at Woodside Park United Synagogue for Barnet Food Bank.

Kenton United Synagogue had a visit from Norwood care home residents for an afternoon tea and concert. The residents also did their own project at the Kennedy Leigh family centre decorating plant pots for charities that help people combat loneliness.

Holland Park Synagogue had an interfaith sandwich making session with Christian and Sikh neighbours for the homeless charity Nishkam SWAT.

Volunteers from 10 different faiths gathered at Barnet Multi Faith Forum’s event at Finchley Methodist Church, planting pollinator-friendly bulbs to brighten up the area.

Volunteers in Elstree made sandwiches and biscuits at the Liberal Synagogue for the Borehamwood foodbank and planted bulbs in the area.

Residents from Jewish Care’s Otto Schiff care home at the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl campus in Golders Green had an afternoon tea, concert and flower arranging.

Rabbi Rebecca Birk led a family craft afternoon at Finchley Progressive Synagogue making Christmas packages for the families that use the Rainbow Centre community hub in Barnet.

Teenagers from 22 schools joined a full day of volunteering supporting food banks, homeless shelters and children in hospitals in venues in Finchley and Golders Green.

Families took part in reading, colouring and chatting with residents at Jewish Care’s Anita Dorfman House care home at Sandringham as part of a storytelling and craft session.

The children at Alyth Synagogue in Golders Green sorted donations for the Child’s Hill food bank at All Saints’ Church, which helps 70 families every week.

Families from St John’s Wood Synagogue collected items for Little Village charity to pass on to families in need.

Mitzvah Day staff, trustees and volunteers also joined the Jewish Remembrance Parade at the Cenotaph organized by the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women on November 19, honouring the Fallen.

St Alban’s Masorti Synagogue had eight Mitzvah Day events including Deputy Mayor Josie Madoc digging a rose bush.

Children from Radlett Reform Synagogue made decorations and goodie bags for Norwood care home residents ready for next month’s Chanukah festival.