Where Do You Give?

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On the 6th Night of Chanukah: Mayim Biyalik is Back!

Mayim Biyalik, our favorite Jewish teenager from the 80s and 90s, recently wrote an article on Kveller about why it’s important to give:

As a public Jewish person, I am asked to speak for a lot of Jewish causes. I feel truly blessed to be able to put the word out there about organizations that do so much to change the world.

Even in my non-celebrity days, though, when I was “just” a graduate student who used to be TV’s Blossom, I was involved in a variety of charity organizations, and believe strongly in advocating for young people to put their money (even if it’s only the money they would spend on one night out drinking) and their passion behind a cause. I even co-founded a young person’s branch of the Jewish Free Loan of Los Angeles to show young people that they, too, can be philanthropists by helping add money to the pot of interest-free loans given out to people of all faiths.


For me, becoming a parent made me feel connected to other parents in a new and powerful way. The thought of not having money or healthcare or the right to not be discriminated against feels much more significant now that I am a parent, and to imagine that this goes on all over the world every day can be overwhelming. Giving voice to organizations like Na’Amat helps contribute to making small changes for other parents and future generations.

And they need our support. It’s that simple.

Finally, as a person comfortably living in a wealthy country, I often marvel at how much we — I include myself in this — take for granted. A bad year financially for many of us looks like luxury to millions of people all over the world. Budgeting for a new water filter in our kitchens (and dechlorination filters for our bathtubs!) is profoundly disturbing when there are families with no clean water to give a sick child. We can give a little. We can give $5. We can also give $10. And we can give $1. The notion is that philanthropy is financial, yes, but it is also spiritual. It’s not about assuaging guilt; it’s a connection to others through time and space.

“Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh” means that all Jews–and all people–are responsible for one another. No exceptions. No modifiers. Stand up for something with your money this Hanukkah, be it a big or small donation. Because there is no measure for how great that contribution is: for your soul, for the recipient of what your donation leads to, and for the truly priceless gift of being a part of this great nation of Jews. Let us be a light among the nations any way we can during this Festival of Lights. Chag Hanukkah Sameach.

Photo courtesy of urtica.


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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