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The Curriculum Countdown Continues!

Jul 31, 2012 by miaj  | 

Yesterday we shared part of our new Where Do You Give? Tzedakah Curriculum (see this post) in anticipation of our curriculum’s big release tomorrow for FREE download on our website. To give you another exciting taste, we’re now turning our attention to a different lesson: the definition of tzedakah.

I’ve been hearing the word “tzedakah” my entire life. And I bet if you’re also part of a Jewish community—formal or informal, for years or just recently—then you’ve heard the word too. Jews love to toss around this term, and we use it to refer to so many different things: giving money, donating our time to a project, caring for others, community action, even cause advocacy. But what does tzedakah really mean?

Let’s take a look at the definitions below, found in our Where Do You Give? Tzedakah Curriculum:

Tzedakah Definitions

I’m not sure about you, but that definition of tzedakah is definitely different from the one I grew up with—and one that raises a lot of questions:
—Given that the word tzedakah is closely related to tzedek, and tzedakah is therefore closely related to justice or fairness, then do all causes and issues we support by giving money qualify as tzedakah? Why or why not?
—What is the difference between tzedakah and charity? How are they similar?
—Why does it matter that tzedakah is an obligation or commandment, rather than a voluntary action? What does that mean for us and for our community?

I’m still wrestling with a lot of these questions, and I hope you’ll join me in that discussion. Share your thoughts in the comments below! And on Wednesday, August 1, download the curriculum for FREE, and invite your community to talk about these issues and join all of us the national tzedakah conversation!


I'm Mia! I'm the Where Do You Give? Intern at AJWS for Summer 2012. I'm orginally from Northern New Jersey, and I'll be a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, where I'm studying Communication and Religious Studies with a minor in French. I love to cook, sing, travel, and try new foods!

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