This is a letter from a long-time member of Congregation Beth Adam (the sister congregation of OurJewishCommunity.org). She talks about giving back to this community. Much of what she discusses is relevant to OurJewishCommunity.org.
I’ve been thinking about charitable contributions lately. This is no accident, of course. In preparation for Ruth Messenger’s visit to Cincinnati, this was the topic of conversation at religious school in September. This was the subject of Rabbi Baum’s sermon on Erev Rosh Hashana. So it is natural that I think about how I give. What I give. To whom I give. I also know that I like to know exactly what’s being done with the money I donate. Sometimes, that information is not easily obtained.
Of course I make the donation to the most appropriate charity in memory of the deceased, in honor of the celebrant, when the Salvation Army bell is ringing and when whatever the adorable child knocks on my door asking for help for the school, for the boy scouts, for the March of Dimes. I also know that I don’t give nearly enough.
Many of our most generous Christian counterparts strive to give 25% of their income to charity. They are expected to tithe 10% to their church alone. Do I come close to that? Do we? The answer is no. At least for me.
So that got me to thinking. I need to give more. But to whom or what? What do I believe in? What is important to me? Where do I get the most bang for the donated buck? This answer was also easy.
Because of Beth Adam, my children grew up to be authentically Jewish adults. What does that mean? It means that they take personal responsibility for their lives, for their family, for their jobs, for their planet. And it means that they take joy in coming home for holidays, knowing their history, and will be passing on their Jewish traditions to their Jewish children.
Because of Beth Adam other children are learning about Tzedakah by acting – not just talking. They have the opportunity to participate locally in the Loveland Food Bank. They are learning about “Repairing the World” via our social entrepreneurship project. They learn that everyone isn’t as fortunate as they are. They learn that it’s a big world, and that helping to fix what’s wrong begins with personal actions in the world we can see and touch.
Because of Beth Adam, they learn what it means to be a humanist, a humanitarian, a human.
Because of Beth Adam, there is an alternative to religious dogma.
Because of Beth Adam, there is a safe place to share history and ideas and philosophies and knowledge.
Because of Beth Adam, I have a place to feel comfortable in my Jewish skin.
Because of Beth Adam, a small part of the world is living and learning the values that I believe in.
Because of Beth Adam, a small group of Jewish children is growing up, becoming responsible adults, going out into the world, and making it a better place.
Because of Beth Adam, my world is better.
Because of Beth Adam, the world is better.
So, I’ve decided to double my annual contribution to Beth Adam this year. There’s more than just our community where we have an opportunity to spread positive Jewish values. Our community impacts many others. Through our actions. Through our children. And now, we have a whole new Jewish community to support – OurJewishCommunity.org. So perhaps my contribution can help our small Jewish community become a little bit bigger a little sooner.
Even doubling my contribution is not enough. It’s not 25%. It’s not even 10%. But it’s better than before. I may have to think before I write the checks. It may be inconvenient at some point during the year to pay my pledge. But I won’t miss a meal. My day-to-day impulse purchases may decline a little. Maybe I’ll patronize that expensive restaurant I love a little less frequently. Maybe I won’t buy that shirt or coat or small appliance. Maybe it’ll hurt just a little.
But maybe it’ll help a little more.
Maybe the world will be a little better because of our kids, because of our values.
Because of Beth Adam.