March 17, 2005
Charity, Going Once, Going Twice…
Artist Joanie Rosenthal will exhibit her latest piece at an unexpected place: eBay.
Rosenthal, a New Jersey artist who has drawn illustrations for Time, U.S. News & World Report and The New York Times Magazine and created book covers for Scholastic, Penguin Putnam and other publishing companies, has decorated a metal tzedakah box as part of a fundraising campaign for the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey.
The eBay auction comes as Jewish groups increasingly turn to online auctions as a way to raise money: This week, the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America announced a new agreement with an Internet company that will make it easier for JCCs in North America to use online auctions for fundraising.
Rosenthal was inspired by the simplicity of the plain, round metal box she was given.
"When I saw the tzedakah box, I appreciated how beautiful it was, standing on its own," she said.
When deciding how to decorate the box, Rosenthal reflected on her roles as an artist and a volunteer.
"Artists don't always know why they are creating, they just do," she said. "No one knows if they're going to find a gallery to show their work -- they might not, but it doesn't matter, they still create. The same is true of tzedakah. Everyone knows the concrete reasons for doing volunteer work, but they don't always know why they decide to do it. No one's going to give them an award, they just keep going."
Rosenthal saw her project as a way to involve the next generation in the process of giving. Using a metallic paint, she drew the Hebrew word tzedakah on her box.
As part of the greater United Jewish Communities' mission to encourage "generous living," cylindrical metal tzedakah boxes were distributed to various federations, with no specific instructions for their use. The Central New Jersey Federation had a novel idea. It distributed the boxes to local artists and asked them to decorate them.
All the artists involved in the project donated their time and materials. Federation representative Naomi Lipstein said that the campaign has not set a financial goal.
"It is very much about raising awareness," she said. "We are just trying to highlight the federation in general, and how we make a difference in day-to-day life."
Bidding on the tzedakah boxes begins Thursday morning, March 17, on www.eBay.com, and a launch party will be held that afternoon. Bidding will last for one week, and the minimum bid for each box has been set at $118. -- Jordana Rothstein, Jewish Telegraphic Agency