Thanksgiving, Tzedakah and Giving Back

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In November, there is an increase in talk about gratuity, charity, and giving, as Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. In my family, my Mother had a strong sense of our duty to give, volunteer, and help others. She raised us in the Christian faith; her Mother, my Grandmother, and all before her were Jewish. I believe this is where the emphasis on giving came from.

What is Tzedakah?

Tzedakah is a Hebrew word meaning justice or righteousness and is often used to refer to charitable giving. In Judaism, Tzedakah is considered a moral obligation, and it is expected that Jews will give back to the community to help those less fortunate.

Tzedakah can take many forms, including donating money to charities, volunteering your time to help others, or donating needed items. When my kids were young, one of the ways I shared Tzedakah was to create a coin jar. On it is printed the different levels of Tzedakah. Think of it like a ladder, where the giving goal is to reach the top. (the “top” being the last on this list)

  • Giving Begrudgingly
  • Giving inadequately but giving cheerfully
  • Giving after being asked
  • Giving without being asked
  • Giving when you do not know the recipient’s identity, and they know yours
  • Giving when you know the recipient’s identity, but they do not know yours
  • Giving when neither party knows the other’s identity
  • Offering to help the recipient become self-reliant

I have seen other versions of this, but the idea is to give willingly and with joy in your heart. Tzedakah is not just about giving money; it is also about helping others in whatever way you can. It is essential to being a good person and living a meaningful life. There are many ways to give Tzedakah; everyone can decide what works best for them. For example, some people choose to volunteer their time at a local charity or soup kitchen, while others may make financial contributions to organizations that help those in need. At Prince William Living, one of the parts of our mission statement is Giving Back. It’s why share stories about non-profits, leadership, and volunteer opportunities. It is also why our awards programs are also fundraisers for our non-profit GiveBack Prince William.

No matter how you choose to give Tzedakah, the important thing is that you are doing your part to make the world a better place.

Giving Back resources
GIving Back Awards November 1, 2022

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Tzedakah resources

Children’s books




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