Change for Change: Tzedakah@Home
“That’s the last one, we’re done!” called out a volunteer, as a cheer went up around the room. Dozens of volunteers had gathered at LifeTown to pack tzedakah kits and launch the Friendship Circle’s new project, Tzedakah@Home. Now, the giving is just beginning.
In the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, volunteers are delivering all 3000 tzedakah boxes to local families. “There’s nothing like a physical, tangible box to signify the centrality of the value of tzedakah in one’s home,” said Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum, CEO of Friendship Circle and LifeTown. “Placing the box in a central location in our home, makes our home into a place where we think about others.”
The goal is also to enable parents to model giving, and start a conversation with their children about compassion, kindness, and donations. “Many people give generously, but the way they do it – often with credit cards online – makes it invisible to children,” said Grossbaum. “We are putting the box back into tzedakah to teach children that a little change can make a big change. We want to spark children’s curiosity and inspire them to give.”
It’s already having an impact. “I was so excited to open my door and find this beautiful tzedakah box waiting for me. It was such a nice moment in my day,” said Mallory Rosen of Livingston. “It made me feel really included in the Jewish community,” she said. What’s more, it’s helping Rosen pass on her values to her three-year-old in a meaningful way. Her son already enjoys bringing coins for tzedakah before Shabbat to preschool.
“Now tzedakah doesn’t only happen for him on Friday mornings at school. We can do it any day of the week at home! And at such a young age, putting coins into the tzedakah box plants seeds,” she said. “It’s a way we can practice giving in a very physical way at home.”
The Jewish concept of tzedakah literally translates as “righteousness” and is considered a spiritual imperative, a way to partner with God to rebalance the world.
The kits include a Lucite tzedakah box, instructions, and two pennies that serve as “starter” coins to insert and create a habit of giving something every day. Once the boxes are full, families can donate the collection to a charity of their choice.
The box is decorated with an original design by Hendel Futerfas, a mixed media artist, that depicts the Hebrew letters of tzedakah bursting into flames set against a backdrop of a sea of abundance. It’s a visual representation of a midrash in which God shows Moses a flaming coin to illustrate the power of giving. The design represents the profound spiritual power released through tzedakah.
Tzedakah@Home marks the second installment of a larger series, Judaism@Home, designed to provide easy ways to enrich our homes and our lives with Jewish meaning and practice. The first project focused on welcoming Shabbat at home.
Judaism@Home kits are inspired by the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s “Ten-Point Mitzvah Campaign” begun 50 years ago, at the start of the Yom Kippur War. Conceived as a way to inspire the performance of mitzvot, the 10-point program included foundational mitzvot, like tzedakah and Shabbat, along with the now iconic street corner pitches to lay tefillin.
“Some 50 years later, the Friendship Circle tzedakah campaign is starting conversations about holiness, about partnering with God to fix the world, and about making the home a center of positivity,” said Grossbaum.
For more information or to order a Tzedakah box, please visit www.CelebrateJudaism.com