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On the 1st Night of Chanukah: Kids Wax Poetic on Giving

Dec 21, 2011 by Sasha  |  Everyone is a Philanthropist

Last night, on the first night of Chanukah, Rabbi Lauren Kurland and I went to Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn to light candles and help teach Got Gelt?

The night was filled with latkes, pizza and the usual middle school racousness, but when it was time to debate about our giving priorities, minds opened up and the conversation was enlightening (no pun intended).

We focused on the following three questions from our Would You Rather? Game, which you can findright here.

Would you rather give to:

A. An organization that sends doctors to clinics in villages in India to perform surgery and train health workers?
B. A local clinic that provides medical care to low-income residents of your city?

” I think it’s good that they’re sending doctors to people in India and helping out, but if you’re helping in your city it can help all over the place instead of just one place”—Alex

“The difference is it doesn’t matter if it is here or in India, but that they’re also training other workers, because what is it, if you teach the fisherman how to fish, they have food for a lifetime. So they’re helping out people here but if they’re going there to help people and also helping people there, then it’s really helping”— Izzi

“I think sending doctors to both places is important, but I think we have to help our community, and who we live with”—Sophia

“I think we can help a lot more in India because we have more advanced technology, and there are a lot more people there who would really need help”—Emma

A. An organization that fights hunger by providing people with hot meals at a soup kitchen?
B.An organization that fights hunger by teaching people job skills so that they can get jobs and earn a living?

“I think teaching people job skills is good, but it costs a lot of money to teach all these people, and it is good that you want to teach them, but getting money and all the supplies is harder. Giving meals to other people is much easier. It may not teach them, but it will at least give them warm food.”—Alex

“I think teaching people job skills is like both of them, because if you learn skills for a job and then you get a job, then you can have hot meals of your own that you can eat at home and you can support yourself.”—Allie

“If you only have ten dollars to give, then for something like job teaching, that wouldn’t teach a lot of people, but ten dollars for food you could serve a lot of people.”—Sam

“I guess I agree with you it would buy more food, but really in the long run, this organization would help people more, because let’s say it takes a hundred dollars to train somebody to be able to get a job and everything. So ten people giving ten dollars could help someone get food the rest of their life, while 10 might give someone food for a day. In the long run it would help more people.”—Zoe

A. An organization that provides new sports equipment to children who live in the slums in Kenya?
B. Your friend who is raising money for new uniforms for his/her basketball team?

“Now I’m really starting to realize that not all kids get what we get - we can just go to ASO and get soccer uniforms or go to a store.”—Emily

“If you give money for your friend to donate for their own team, it’s helping them learn life skills to raise money for something they think is important, which will help them to be able to raise money for things they think are important throughout life. ”—Izzi

“I would always give to someone poor in New York first, then anyone who is poor.”—Sam

“I don’t think it should matter what their religious status is. I think it should be who needs it most. If your relative needs help paying, that’s great, but you can’t just do that because you know them.”—Izzi


Sasha Feldstein is a program associate in the education and community engagement department at AJWS, where she manages WhereDoYouGive.org. Aside from wanting to be and play outside all of the time, she is interested in radical reconceptualizations of ancient traditions and in deeply exploring why we give, where we give, how we give and what it means to define giving tzedakah as pursuing justice. Sasha can be reached at sfeldstein@ajws.org.

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