Sat Dec 8, 2012, 10:34 AM
rug (75,559 posts)
Hanukkah ushers in 'tzedakah,' a religious obligation to do what is right and just
By Bruce Newman
Posted: 12/07/2012 04:05:53 PM PST
Until the book fell into 8-year-old Raquel Jarson's hungry hands last summer -- sent to her Morgan Hill home by Harold Grinspoon, a Massachusetts millionaire with the name of a Dr. Seuss-like character -- the Jewish tradition of giving, called "tzedakah," remained a mystery. "My daughter has autism," explained MariaElena Jarson, Raquel's mother. "She's always connected more with animals than with people."
But when Raquel learned about the tzedakah that members of her faith use as a collection box -- in this case, it's kosher to think of it as a Jewish piggy bank -- for money they give to less fortunate people, she was transformed. "That's how she decided that any money we would spend on a Hanukkah present for her she wanted to give to tzedakah," MariaElena Jarson said, "so we could buy warm blankets and a warm jacket for people who didn't have them." Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of lights, begins Saturday.
In Judaism, tzedakah is the religious obligation to do what is right and just, which describes the plot when a girl Raquel's age undertakes a giving project in "How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter Inside a Tiny Blue Box." It is one of 3 million books distributed free by Grinspoon's PJ Library since he started the philanthropy in 2005, sending Jewish-themed children's books to 109,000 families in 185 communities nationwide each month. The Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley distributes 800 of those, and an additional 2,200 go through the Jewish Federation of East Bay.
Tzedakah, which is pronounced like the surname of singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka -- whose name was adapted, in turn, from the Hebrew word for the "mitzvah" of giving -- is an act of religious obligation. "Jewish teaching is that all of us are responsible to care for others," said Marcie Greenfield Simons, director of PJ Library. "Even the poorest among us are technically required to give a little something to help somebody else. We are considered to be God's partners in this world, and therefore it's our job to help make the world a better place."
4 replies, 750 views
Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Hanukkah ushers in 'tzedakah,' a religious obligation to do what is right and just (Original post)
|Fortinbras Armstrong||Dec 2012||#1|
|Fortinbras Armstrong||Dec 2012||#4|
Response to rug (Original post)
Sat Dec 8, 2012, 12:45 PM
Fortinbras Armstrong (3,366 posts)
1. Giving to the poor has always been a mitzvot.
If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards your needy neighbour. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. -- Dueteronomy 15: 7-8