Leadership training program looking to impart concept of tzedakah to those not used to it.
Some were born in the former Soviet Union, and came to the United States as children with their families. Some were born to émigré families here. Typical of Jews who grew up in households where education about Judaism was minimal, they had learned little about fundamental Jewish beliefs.
A few weeks ago a dozen of them started their remedial education.
In the classroom and extra-curricular activities, local Jewish schools are teaching today’s students to be tomorrow’s givers.
In the Yeshivah of Flatbush’s Sephardic Beit Midrash, faculty member Sara Ovadia is leading a few dozen students in a lunch-hour discussion about charity late one recent morning.
While the students, members of the school’s Tzedakah Commission, an educational-activist project, quietly pick at pizza and pasta in the crowded study hall, Ovadia outlines several upcoming programs for which she will need volunteers. A food pantry. A scavenger hunt. Pledges for teachers racing in a fund-raising marathon.
Reviewing the laws of charity leads to educated philanthropy.
Staff WriterSpecial to The Jewish Week
If our destinies in the coming year can be changed by repentance, prayer and charity, then let’s start out with the easiest of the three: tzedakah. With minimal effort we can help the many organizations and individuals who ask us for assistance at this season. After all, we are mandated by Jewish law to give a tenth of our earnings to charity. It would be interesting to know what percentage of the Jewish community takes this practice seriously.
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Although Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are familiar times for most Jews, the machzor, or High Holy Days prayer book, is terra incognita. The Hebrew words, even when rendered into English or any other language, present a barrier: the pray-ers don’t know the prayers.
For a Jewish community that largely has embraced the precept of tzedakah, or giving charity, and respects the concept of teshuvah, or making spiritual amends this time of year, tefillah is largely unknown territory.
Twitter may very well be the social media site that everyone counted out as not having any utility, but is actually thriving. That is because Twitter users are finding new and innovative ways to use the application.
Danny Siegel, sometimes known as The Pied Piper of Tzedakah or The Mitzvah Heroes Man, whose one-time decision to collect and distribute charitable funds for Israel turned into a three-decade, multi-million-dollar effort to seek out and help individuals and groups committed to personalized acts of kindness, is calling it quits. Sort of.