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Top 5 differences between charity and tzedakah: Day 5

#5 Charity will not necessarily produce sustainable change; tzedakah can.

When we think of charity we usually think of giving spare change to people who ask for money on the street, donating to a food drive or giving money to a local shelter. This kind of giving is considered tzedakah as well, but our tradition teaches us that tzedakah is about a much larger redistribution of resources that will contribute to a just society. Depending on how and where we give tzedakah, such as to advocacy, education and human rights we can promote long-term, lasting change with our tzedakah giving. If tzedakah truly means justice and righteousness as opposed to charity, then this means that the expectations of our tzedakah giving are far greater than providing for short-term, material needs.

This concludes the top 5 list of differences between charity and tzedakah, but please let me know if you can think of other differences to offer!


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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