When Osias “Ozzie” Goren turned 90 last year, he and his wife, Dorothy, were moved that their grandchildren donated $900 — $90 each — to a Head Start preschool for low-income families that the Gorens supported for many years.
New York state’s attorney general accused four New Yorkers of pocketing more than $2.5 million in donations for charitable projects in Israel.
When it comes to sending international aid abroad, Israel and its citizens give less than most other developed free-market economies, according to a new report.
As April 15 nears each year, American taxpayers take inventory of their income and expenses and hand over a year’s worth of detail to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Many of us utilize the expertise of accountants to prepare what will become a complex analysis of the many life happenings that impact the sum of the taxes we owe or our refund.
Phil Rosenthal, creator and executive producer of the sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” was leading a game of Bingo in the annex dining room at Canter’s Deli on the morning of May 5 — not a bad way to spend Big Sunday Weekend, the annual festival of community service that featured more than 150 projects this year.
If I were asked to identify the greatest Jewish teaching, the most important lesson to be learned from all of Judaism, I would argue that, aside from ethical monotheism, it is that behavior matters more than anything else, and certainly more than feelings.
Standing with dozens of hungry people in a
breadline, Collette Quidron counts her blessings.
Six months ago, when Michal Taviv-Margolese started working as the Western Regional director for AMIT, a nonprofit operator of 108 schools in Israel, she started thinking more seriously about charity.
I like entitlements. I know that’s somehow a terrible thing to say. “Entitlement” has become a dirty four-syllable word in our deranged political culture.
Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries is recognizing the importance of traditional charitable giving. Los Angeles’ largest Jewish funeral home has begun offering free, limited-edition tzedakah boxes to California, Arizona and Nevada residents, hoping they’ll give to charities of value without being told where to give.
What do you do when you run out of money? When you’re about to be evicted from your home, or having trouble feeding your kids, or simply can’t afford the basic necessities of life? What happens, also, when you can’t afford certain things you consider crucial — like sending your children to a Jewish day school?
In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in eastern Turkey on Oct. 23, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has begun collecting funds for relief efforts.
Judaism has a lot to say about how to create a balance between using the resources we have and abusing or destroying them.
This is not the time to extinguish the many institutions that have risen up to create a civil society. The arts nourish the soul, schools nurture the potential of our youth and promote the scientific and creative research that will secure our future.
A young boy with a serious illness was a big football fan. So Grossman, Usdan and the staff made some calls and found someone to donate two Super Bowl tickets, and someone else to sponsor the trip. When the boy found out about the trip, his parents said it was "the first time he smiled since getting his diagnosis."
So here we are seven years later, about to enter the Jewish year 5769. The deaths of Sept. 11 have been compounded by more deaths in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. In many ways our world is more violent and certainly more fearful than it had been. Evidence of evil abounds.
I've spoken about Darfur for five years straight now, and sometimes I get tired of talking about the genocide that has claimed 450,000 lives, just as I'm sure people get tired of listening to me talk about it. Yet for me, as for many other Jews, there is simply no choice in the matter. This is because as Jews, we know what it is like to have the world forget and to have the world fail to act.
Parshat Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9) One of the biggest misnomers in the Jewish vocabulary is the translation of tzedakah as "charity." This mistranslation has gone on for so long in the American Jewish community that it's a hard habit to break.
When the boys decided to raise funds for developmentally disabled children in Israel, they made an effort to involve their families, their community and even their four-legged friends.
Imagine walking into a room full of 1,000 Jewish teenagers from all over North America who are singing in unity and celebration of their Jewish heritage.
This was the sight at the 2007 United Synagogue Youth (USY) International Convention. From Dec. 23-27, the Marriott Hotel in Anaheim became the center for teens from all over North American attending an amazing weeklong convention packed with social action projects, Jewish studies and most importantly, a focus on tzedakah.
I opened my mailbox to find several letters, a few bills and a host of requests for donations from various organizations that I have supported over the years. Because I am a stickler for organization, I sort the letters, place the bills in a folder marked "Look at me soon!" and the appeals for donations in one marked "Save the World." Between the needs of my local community, the Jewish community, our country and the world at large, I am seriously thinking about renting a storage unit for the hundreds of requests I receive annually.
The Hebrew word tzedakah, unlike "charity" (from Greek karitas, "love"), is the Jewish legal requirement to do rightly with your fellow person -- that is, to support him when he is in need.
Giving tzedakah is one way to achieve tikkun olam, or the Jewish obligation to repair what is broken and lacking in the world. Both affirm our responsibility to give a part of what we have to take care of others who are less fortunate. We do this because Judaism views individual wealth as neither a right nor a privilege but a form of stewardship for which we are charged to care for the world.
Thanksgiving is the holiday to which most American Jews fully relate. It's based on the biblical Sukkot, and it's the American holiday most associated with family gatherings and food. And yet, there is much more to the holiday than stuffing and pumpkin pie.
How do we enlighten our concrete-thinking kiddies to the fact that -- despite popular playground belief -- money doesn't grow in ATM machines? With the Spend/Save/Tzedakah plan, of course!
We are donors to universities, museums, orchestras and hospitals, but when it comes to Jewish philanthropy, we fall short. Today, perhaps 20 percent or less of Jewish giving goes to Jewish causes.
I was about to inquire how they could manage to consistently laugh like fiends each time they saw Stu dress up like Latke Man, but stopped short upon realizing that they could easily turn the question back on me. You see, I'm no stranger to repetition myself, having managed to spend Thanksgiving on Hilton Head Island every year since I was in first grade.
Kids and Teens
It's hard for Gideon Daneshrad to imagine himself on the receiving end of tzedakah (charitable giving). In the 30 years since he arrived from Iran to study computer science at North Louisiana University in Monroe, Daneshrad, 56, has built himself a full life -- with four children, a lakefront home and New Orleans' only kosher restaurant.
"Just close your eyes and imagine that you wake up in the morning and you are stripped of your identity," Daneshrad says. "You are nobody. You are nothing. You have no money coming in. You don't have clothes. You don't have food. And all the people you knew are scattered around the world."
Daneshrad and his family have been in Los Angeles for more than a week, and he still finds himself imagining this is all a nightmare.
At Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, a unique program is giving teenagers the opportunity to put those lessons to work by serving as board members of their own philanthropic foundation.
The goal of the Arachim program is to help teens discover the opportunities that exist in their neighborhoods and communities, where their contributions make a significant difference in the lives of other people. The unique project is being observed by numerous synagogues and may serve as a model for communities trying to develop similar programs.
With their hands all but frozen, lips blue and feet soaking, nearly 50 South Bay teens and a large handful of adult volunteers braved the storm on Sunday, Dec. 5, to devote their afternoon to testing, cleaning and repairing bicycles.
Every Jewish New Year we recite the words, "Repentance, prayer and charity avert the evil decree." It sounds straightforward enough, but trying to navigate myriad charities, especially Jewish charities, is confounding.
The oldest and most primitive human dates back about 7 million years, according to a skull found by scientists in Central Africa.
"That's so depressing," I say to my husband, Larry. "I can't believe that in 7 million years we haven't evolved any further than this."
"This" being a world in which half the people live on less than $2 a day; in which 1 billion people go to bed hungry every night; in which 115 million children never go to school at all; and in which 27 million people live in some kind of slavery.
"You're looking at this all wrong," Larry assures me. "Seven million years is an insignificant blip in the history of the cosmos."
And, Jewish tradition tells me, the first 6,994,235 years hardly count.
George Smith is a financial matchmaker. He earns a princely living making matches between scores of lenders and clients buying property ranging from car washes to golf courses.
"If you have a piece of fruit," said Simha Lainer, "throw away the skin and eat only the good part inside." Such a wise and optimistic statement could fit right in with the list of "zayde-isms" that Lainer's granddaughter, Lisa, is compiling for the family in honor of his upcoming 100th birthday.
The rabbis say that the world stands on three things: learning, prayer and righteous deeds.
In 1998, Alice Elliott received a disturbing call from Larry Selman, the remarkable man with developmental disabilities she was profiling in her Oscar-nominated short documentary, "The Collector of Bedford Street."
The Federation raised more than $4 million this year on Super Sunday, $1 million less than last year's $5 million tally. But organizers say that a new fundraising strategy this year has rendered the single-day total superficial.
The Chanukah effort is one of the first outcomes of Morasha's involvement with a three-year national research project of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.
Every Chanukah, I am struck by the beauty of my chanukiyah as the flames glow steadily against the darkness around them.
Real estate entrepreneur Brad Gluckstein had a vision. Perhaps not as dramatic as one of those sightings of Mary Magdalene, but a vision nonetheless.
A Portion of Parshat Ki Tavo.
Leona Goldring is 93. She not only attends monthly Anti-Defamation League (ADL) meetings, as well as planning sessions for their fundraising events, but she also is still active in the Women's Fundraising Division of United Jewish Fund (UJF). She was its chairperson about 40 years ago, and she still attends regular strategy meetings for former chairs.
Anya Karlin has been fascinated with opera since the age of 4, when she was invited to join the cast of "Madame Butterfly." At 10, while performing in a Chanukah concert, she discovered the joys of singing in Yiddish.
When Becca Yuré turned 13, her enthusiasm for pandas became the focus of her Bat Mitzvah celebration.
Anne Roberts is passionate about the idea of tzedakah, a concept she has diligently instilled in her son Spencer Nieman.
Anne Roberts is passionate about the idea of tzedakah, a concept she has diligently instilled in her son Spencer Nieman.
On the surface, the mitzvah of tzedakah, the commandment to give, is a very simple one. Deuteronomy says, "If there is a needy person among you, don't harden your heart, don't shut your hand against your needy kin.