Jewish Charity in Santa Monica
What makes a Jewish house Jewish in Santa Monica? Well, there's a mezuzah on the doorpost. Books of Jewish wisdom on the shelves. Guests are welcome, and when a needy soul knocks on the door, he doesn't go away empty handed, maybe a surfboard. And then there's a little box or tin can sitting on a counter somewhere. Every day, some spare change gets dropped in there, plus a few more coins just before Shabbat. When it's full, it goes to a good cause, whichever the family chooses. It could be a new beach-cruisers or maybe a new computer. But none these items have as great an impact on people's lives, fill the house with as much meaning and add as much beauty as the pushka (Yiddish for "little box").
What's so special about the pushkah?
"How often," said the 12th century sage Maimonides, "is more important than how much." Why? Because when you write a check for $365, a good cause gets another $365. But give a dollar every day for 365 days — and your hand becomes a giving hand. As an anonymous Jewish sage wrote, "A person is more influenced by the things he does than by the knowledge he is taught." So if you want to pick yourself up, get into some elevated habits. Like dropping coins in a box.
And it's not just you — your pushka will pick up your living space as well. "A Jewish charity box in a home or office," the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught, "redefines the entire space. It is no longer just a home, just an office. It is a center of kindness and caring." That is why the Rebbe suggested making a pushka box a permanent fixture of your home or office. Affix it to a wall. Or more correctly: Affix your house to it.
It’s not “Charity”
In Jewish tradition, is not called “Charity,” we call it "giving tzedakah." Tzedakah means "doing the right thing." Putting your stuff where it really belongs. That's where your money will reap you the most benefit and bring you the most good — because that's where it's meant to be
Charity, everyone knows, means being a nice guy and giving your money to someone with less. That's why, in Jewish tradition, we never give charity. It's unheard of. Because everyone knows that whatever we have doesn't really belong to us to begin with. We are no more than treasurers, our sages taught, and everything that comes through our hands is given us in order to use it for good things. Like educating our kids. Like nourishing our body with kosher and healthy food. And like giving it to people who are short on what they need. That's why, in Jewish tradition, Jewish Charity, we call it "giving tzedakah." Tzedakah means "doing the right thing." Putting your stuff where it really belongs. That's where your money will reap you the most benefit and bring you the most good — because that's where it's meant to be.
It's an Obsession
Since we left the oppression of ancient Egypt, the Jewish people have been obsessed with the act of Tzedakah (Jewish charity.) When, in the fourth century, the Roman Emperor Julian ordered the setting up of hostels for transients in every city, he referred to the example of the Jews "in whose midst no stranger goes uncared for." Historical records from every era, wherever there were Jews, provide long lists of societies — free loan funds, soup kitchens, wedding funds, widow funds, orphan care, new mother care, free education and much more. There wasn't a Jew who wasn't either giving or getting — and often both. Today, when Jewish values have been universally adopted, Jews continue to give more to both Jewish and non-Jewish causes than the rest of the population. Giving tzedakah is one of the things we are most proud of.
Pick one up at Living Torah Center / Chabad of Santa Monica Synagogue. If you don't have a pushka yet? Come visit the Living Torah Center/Chabad in Santa Monica and pick up a Living Torah Center/Chabad Pushka for free!
Chabad of Santa Monica Synagogue – Living Torah Center
1130 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, Ca 90401
We welcome you and your family to look through www.livingtorahcenter.com and note the various activities and educational and social programs being offered by one of the few Jewish Orthodox Synagogues serving Santa Monica. We personally invite you to join us for any or all of these meaningful programs at Living Torah Center/Chabad of Santa Monica Synagogue.
For more information contact: 310-394-5699 or Rabbi@LivingTorahCenter.com.