Tzedakah in Our Schools

by Rabbi Helene Kornsgold, Director of Congregational Learning

A new Tzedakah project is underway in the Blanche Bayar Religious School (BBRS).

The phrase “Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh laZeh” (Talmud, Shavuot 39a) is translated as “All Jews are responsible for one another.”  But do we really know what this means? Many schools accept this responsibility and try to fulfill it by collecting Tzedakah, raising money to donate to causes or collecting food or warm clothes and so much more. However, aside from being able to translate the words above, do Jewish children and young adults understand there is a greater meaning to the word Tzedakah. At BBRS, Moreh Michael (Greenstein) is currently teaching  a course about Social Action to the Kitah Zayin class (in addition to other classes) and the specific topic is Tzedakah.

At the same time, the rest of the school is also embarking on a Tzedakah project. Our madrichim are creating a creative bulletin board devoted to the Tzedakah campaign. Stop by the second floor in the education wing and see the innovative idea they have to collect Tzedakah and monitor the amount of money donated. The madrichim decided to write each student’s name on a leaf on their Etz Chaim – Tree of Life. Including every student’s name brings us back to the initial quote, “Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh laZeh.” There is a Chinese proverb which states: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for life.

If our students understand the meaning of the proverb and its relationship to the phrase from Talmud, Shavuot 39a, then the Tzedakah program will have achieved its goals. As Jews it is our duty to pass on to the next generation the values we believe in. Please help us demonstrate the value of Tzedakah to your children by having them bring in Tzedakah every Sunday.