Giving Tzedakah : Teach...Teach your Children Well...
The Hebrew Bible teaches us, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6) We teach our children many things: to eat well, to exercise, to live a healthy lifestyle. We teach them to read so they expand their minds and develop their imagination. We may encourage them to play an instrument so they can benefit from the beauty of music. We do this to help develop positive patterns of behavior that we hope will continue over a lifetime. Similarly, in the CJL, we help teach our children the value of tzedakah, so that they develop the habit of righteous giving.
Every Sunday in our classes we collect tzedakah from our religious school students. For some, this has become a rote act that we don’t think much about. Others may be unaware of this practice in our classroom Either way, the topic deserves exploration so that we have a greater understanding of why we collect tzedakah each week and where we donate it. With an understanding of the value of routinely engaging in tzedakah, I hope that parents and students will come to appreciate the ritual as having greater significance in helping shape our students behavior later in life.
As many of you know, the Hebrew word tzedakah is derived from the Hebrew word tzedek. which means justice or righteousness. Therefore, in the Jewish tradition, giving tzedakah is not seen as a voluntary act, dependent on whether or not one feels like giving at any particular moment. Rather, giving tzedakah is viewed as a responsibility, incumbent upon each of us, to help take care of our brothers and sisters in the universal family of mankind. Therefore, Judaism teaches us that giving tzedakah is a commandment, not an option, and we give tzedakah because it is the just thing to do. We are obligated to give tzedakah according to what we can afford with a general accepted standard that we set aside ten percent of our earnings to give to tzedakah. (For our students who receive allowance, this may be a fun math exercise -- have them calculate ten percent of their allowance to be directed towards tzedakah!)
There are many ways to develop a culture of giving tzedakah within your home. One common Jewish practice is to put change in a tzedakah box right before lighting the Shabbat candles. When a child has a birthday / celebratory party such as a bar/bat mitzvah, perhaps an agreed upon percentage of gifts might be donated to a Jewish organization such as Mazon, which helps feed the hungry (www.mazon.org). Families may want to create a list of tzedakah organizations that they wish to support so that they have it on hand to discuss when they are able to make a donation
We are taught “the more Tzedakah (we give), the more shalom (peace).” It is our hope that by creating a culture of giving in our homes and in our school, we will develop a learned pattern of giving among our children that will result in greater peace in their world.
Rabbi Wendy D. Pein
Upcoming Important Family / Youth Events
Sunday, January 21 TIPSY Bear Mountain Skating Trip at 1:30 PM
Sunday, January 28, 9:30 AM Tu B’shevat Tot CJL experience
Friday night, February 2, 7 PM Multi-Generational Service with Kitah Gimmel participation
Sunday, February 4, 9 AM CJL Community Mitzvah Moment (Details TBA)
Sunday, February 11, 9:30 AM Purim Tot CJL experience
Monday, February 19 CJL/TIPJY/TIPSY Volunteer Event to HUC-JIR, Soup Kitchen ([email protected])
Wed., February 28, 5 PM Purim Family Carnival (Sunday CJL students and families invited!)
5:45 PM Purim Community Dinner (Wednesday CJL, Sunday CJL and Congregation)
6:15 PM Purim Megillah Reading and Shpiel