Judaism is a religion of what you do, not what you believe. Tzedakah is offering of charity either monetary or the giving of your time to those in need.
How one was to perform righteous acts was laid out in an elaborate set of instructions — first in the written law, Torah, and then in the oral law, Talmud, for the Jewish people. These acts of giving became interwoven into the basic foundation of Jewish society. It is a fundamental part of the Jewish way of life.
Do you remember the stories your grandparents would tell when you were a child? Throughout those stories, do you recall hearing about the “pushke box?” A blue tin can where you would place coins and then either yourself or your parent would give the blue tin box to the Rabbi at your local synagogue. Do you recall shaking that blue tin box and feeling joy from the sound of all those coins?
When you go to synagogue and the name of your beloved family member is read during Yizkor. The practice is then to make a donation in memory of that special person.
Kol Nidre appeal has become a fixture of American synagogue life. Not everyone is a fan of this practice on the Erev (evening) of the holiest of holidays in Judaism. Its origins were during World War I. It was on Erev Yom Kippur that Rabbis throughout the United States “appealed” to their congregants for funds. Those funds were to be sent overseas to those having experienced the devastations of war. Thus, the Kol Nidre appeal stuck to be a fundamental part of the Jewish way of life.
When affiliated with a synagogue, it is common practice to perform tzedakah to many funds that will assist those in need. In addition, a Rabbi usually has a discretionary fund set up as well. This fund allows the Rabbi to assist those in need at his discretion.
When giving charity it is performing tzedakah. How one was to perform righteous acts was laid out in an elaborate set of instructions — first in the written law, Torah, and then in the oral law, Talmud, of the Jewish people. These acts of giving became interwoven into the basic foundation of Jewish society. Giving charity was replaced when animal sacrifices ended. Animal sacrifice and giving charity is the Jewish response to giving thanks to God or asking forgiveness from God.
The 50 Most Generous Philanthropists includes those that are Jewish. Would you believe Jews, who are only about 2% of the American population, are 30% of America’s most generous donors. Do you have to be a millionaire to be charitable? The answer is simple – decide on a comfortable amount, when you can.
An offering of charity is not only connected with financial donations, it is also the giving of your time for those in need as well. When we have children, we should teach them on giving of themselves to others in need. For the most part, when they are blessed to receive their many toys, computers etc., they often are not aware of those that are not as blessed.
Soon, I will provide a list, below, and you decide which works best for you for performing tzedakah. We do what we can, to the best of our ability and what we are most comfortable with, but remember, it is a fundamental part of the Jewish way of life.