Towards Rosh Hashana, incredible amounts of tzedaka are given by Jewish people worldwide.

There is a dazzling array of charities, each with their own logo, branding and solicitation methods.

Everyone wants to donate to a “worthy cause,” and especially to help poor people.

So how do people decide to which charity to donate?

Traditionally, tzedaka meant giving money to poor and underprivileged people. But in our complex world, it’s time to think of other approaches.

It’s time for a charity revolution.

There are two types of charities: those dealing with the results of the problem and those dealing with the root of the problem.

Dealing with the results means providing relief for the suffering incurred due to lack of intervention at the source.

Dealing with the root means identifying and addressing the causes through Education.

So to where should limited, well-intentioned resources be directed?

  • Paying dental bills to fix rotten teeth OR teaching children how to brush their teeth?
  • Building rehabilitation centers OR teaching the dangers of taking drugs?
  • Giving money to people in debt OR teaching Financial Literacy?

A simple calculation shows that providing education and teaching preventative, pro-active measures are far cheaper than relieving crisis situations after the fact.

As a former counselor of families acutely in debt, I am frustrated by how much suffering could have been prevented had the people been given proper instruction and guidance in managing their finances.

As a teacher of Financial Literacy, I rejoice at the skills and knowledge I am giving my students as they face the real world of misleading advertising, devious bosses and confusing bills and paperwork. I am teaching them how to prioritize their expenses, make informed financial decisions and live within their means. And most importantly, I ingrain in them that they must stay out of debt.

Yes, we need to alleviate suffering, but we also need to designate tzedaka for Financial Education and poverty prevention.

Let’s deal with the root of the problem!

Join the Chaim BePlus revolution in Financial Education at the Annual Event on Monday September 26, 7-9 pm, at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Entrance free. Registration required at www.chaimbeplus.org.  Bring a friend!