The High Holiday Season is upon us, which means that High Fundraising Season is upon us as well. The value of tzedakah (charity) is a central one among Jews of all denominations. In Devarim 26:12, the Torah famously mandates Jews to donate 10 percent of their crops to the poor. And later sources suggest 10 percent as the baseline, encouraging as much as 20 percent of one’s income as an ideal allocation of one’s philanthropic dollars.
With election season just around the corner we are likely to hear the same debate that usually intensifies during this part of the year, between those that promote the role of business (usually Republicans) and those that champion the functions of government (usually Democrats.) Most of us are already familiar with the argument and points of view from each political camp. The pro-business side will tell us, as they usually do, that only business’s are able to create value, wealth, and serve society in the most efficient manner. The pro-government side will dispense their own vision of the world in which it is government agencies that provide necessary services to those in need and the role of government (and taxes) needs to be increased so that everyone is cared for. What many people overlook in the business versus government debate is the role that not-for-profits play in our life.
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.
A new crop of books offers insights
into making a spiritual connection.
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.