One of the eighteen ways people and organizations can help promote the new Jewish holiday of 9Adar, Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict, is through giving tzedakah to organizations that promote these values in our local communities and in the world. Giving tzedakah is a traditional way of commemorating fast days. The question is how to go about choosing which organization to give to that speak to these values?
When I speak to people about how to put together a personal tzedakah plan, one suggestion I make is to apportion some percentage of giving to a “To-Be-Determined” or “New Causes” category. As a result, one can celebrate having laid out their tzedakah priorities in an organized plan without feeling handcuffed when asked to support a cause that does not fit exactly into their plan. This avoids having to give the answer of “not now, come back to me next year,” before the solicitor can even finish stating their request.
For my own personal observance of the 9th of Adar, I am excited and motivated to tap into my “to-be-determined” category of Tzedakah – this is truly a shehechianu moment for my family and me. Since the impetus for the giving is based on commemorating an event rather than responding to a request by a specific organization, the question of where I will give is one of the first things to tackle. We decided that supporting organizations directly connected to 9 Adar would be our focus. My family is taking $360 from our “to be determined” pushke (tzedakah box) for 9 Adar and we are allocating it as follows: $180 to the Beit Hillel Attentive Spiritual Leadership Organization, $60 to Moishe House, $60 to The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and $60 to The Center for Consensual Conflict Resolution – Mosaica.
In case you are searching out some way to decide exactly where you wish to make donations for your 9 Adar giving, I am happy to share how we arrived at our 9 Adar giving decisions. When we make yearly tzedakah decisions as a family – the driving force in the process is the question of “what are the most precious of values that we attempt to uphold in our lives?” In the case of the 9th of Adar, we just did a slight alteration to this question resulting in “what are the most precious values that the story of the 9th of Adar triggers for us.” Among the results of our brainstorm were the following concepts: Striving for a State of Israel where all Jews can connect to one another, providing attractive entry points into being Jewish for American Jews, the Jewish narrative as seen in the Beit Midrash and the importance of speech and communication, especially between different peoples. As we laid out these ideas and others alongside the list of partners in the 9th of Adar, four concepts in particular lined up with four of the organizations taking part in the program.
We are so impressed with the women and men who are joining together in Beit Hillel and carrying the flag of core Jewish values enabling Jews in Israel to behave as the uber-mensches that God intended us. The work of Moishe House reminds me of the years that I was privileged to work for Hillel: the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. I always took pride in the fact that so much of our focus went toward reaching those who probably did not realize that they wished to be engaged into things Jewish, rather than just sitting back and providing for those who came in the door. From what we have seen, Moishe House is reaching a similar type Jew just a bit older than the undergraduates with whom I worked. While we have respect and allegiance to many different types of Jewish learning providers, Pardes just sits in a league of its own (see note below). Finally, there are so many challenging layers to how we express our thoughts and with whom we choose to speak that we need practitioners who can guide us and mentor us as we relate to one another through direct communication. The work of Mosaica gives us hope that we can grow in our abilities to communicate and that this communication can take peoples to unforeseen levels of understanding and tolerance.
I hope that these tips provide some assistance and/or motivation for you as you consider observing the 9th of Adar through giving tzedakah. I will just note before wrapping up that as a result of checking out the different organizations we could support on 9 Adar, we had a few organizations that we chose not to fund at this time, but have added as causes that my family and I will further explore for possible future giving.
Pardes Note: Three out of the four gifts we are making are to organizations to which we have not previously given. Pardes, which is our single largest gift each year, is receiving the fourth of the 9 Adar gifts. I am one who is greatly influenced by the concept of hakarat hatov when it comes to my giving decisions – I define hakarat hatov as simply, “don’t forget where you came from.” So, in the case of 9 Adar, I know that the holiday probably would not grab and inspire me as it does, if it were not for all that I learned at Pardes while I was a full-time student and in the years to follow.
This post is part of the 9 Adar project, an initiative of the Pardes Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution, part of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.