By: Anna Simon, Community Relations and Event Manager
Close your eyes. Ok, wait, don’t really close your eyes. Metaphorically close your eyes. I want you to think about something and really focus on it. So, just imagine you are closing your eyes, Ok? Ready. Go.
What is the meaning of tzedakah…to YOU?
What does it feel like to give tzedakah? Think back to your childhood. When did you first learn about it? Did someone tell you to give tzedakah? Did you talk about spending, saving and donating money in your family? Or, did you learn from watching others? Maybe your parents dropped change into the blue and white metal pushke on your kitchen counter before Shabbos dinner or your older brother had a “save-spend-donate” piggy bank. Perhaps you had extra guests at the seder table because your grandmother felt she must “let all who are hungry come and eat”. Or, maybe your family brought bags filled with canned food to shul with you on Yom Kippur for the annual food drive.
Giving tzedakah as a child or teen can be deeply meaningful and it can also be the spark that ignites a lifetime of giving. This summer, we are helping some of our campers light that spark and get more involved with giving tzedakah. We received a grant from the Jewish Teen Funders Network to create a Teen Philanthropy Board at camp. We receive a small stipend, training for our summer staff, and a curriculum, as well as $1,000 for the campers to distribute to charity at the end of the curriculum. We are using this to complement our existing B’yachad community service programming where the 10th grade campers provide community service to a variety of local non-profits. We are very excited about enhancing our community service programming and helping our campers give tzedakah!
This evening, as you gather around your table to tell the story of Passover, think about how you might make a difference in the lives of others. Ask the children and teens around the table how THEY can make a difference in the world by giving tzedakah this Passover. Listen to what they have to say. Maybe they will want to incorporate tzedakah in your seder in the future…a tradition that could be passed down from generation to generation.
Every seder is unique. Every family has their own traditions from the Maxwell House Haggadah or Cajun matzo balls to oranges on the seder plate or a theatrical performance of the Passover story. Whatever your tradition, may you have a happy and healthy Passover! And, may you get through all 1,200 versus of Had Gadya before Midnight.
To help your kids learn how to allocate their own money for tzedakah, read “Spending, Saving and Sharing: The Three-Jar System” at Helpful Steps® for Parents.