Stating the Not So Obvious – What Does Giving Jewishly Mean?

Posted on March 2, 2010

In honor of our new Jewish teen philanthropy program H.O.P.E. -Helping Organizations Provide Essentials at Yeshivat Noam we posted a text that can be used to discuss giving Jewishly in a teen philanthropy program, youth movement, day school, summer camp, congregational school or in adult education. In response to the positive feedback I received I am pleased to present another text with some thought provoking questions.

Baba Batra 9b
Rabbi Yitzchak said, “Whoever gives even a small coin to a poor man receives six blessings, but whoever speaks reassuringly to him receives eleven blessings.”

  • Do you think it makes a difference how you give money, or it is enough just to give?
  • Do you ever interact with “poor” people? In what capacity?
  • What lessons can you learn from this Talmudic passage?
  • If the Talmud is emphasizing the importance of words and interactions with people, how do you (a teen) who may not have this type of contact with people resolve this issue

Questions to Think About…

  • Do you have a Jewish quote or teaching that guides your philosophy to giving?
  • How does your Judaism impact your giving?
  • What does “giving Jewishly” mean? Is it required?
  • If one is Jewish, how does “giving Jewishly” differ from “giving”, if at all?

I believe addressing these issues are essential and make the educational experience more meaningful and relevant for the participants. Doing so also connects such programs with traditional Jewish texts which is important as often times participants do not get that exposure elsewhere. We need to make sure that the Jewish in these programs goes beyond having the program sponsored by a Jewish agency, participants being Jewish and programs not meeting on Jewish holidays. Incorporating sources and exercises like this help achieve these goals while simultaneously encouraging critical thinking skills and moving the program forward. We look forward to incorporating more of them into H.O.P.E.

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