“Tzedakah” — what’s it all about? How do we teach it?
Each week at the early childhood Shabbat celebration at the J, the children come up and excitedly put their money into many tzedakah boxes.
Why? It’s fun! But without knowing it, they are getting into the tzedakah habit! The definitions for habit are: an established custom; a pattern of behavior acquired through frequent repetition. Children are learning early that this is what we do. Many a parent has recounted that when they go to the grocery store and there is a donation box at check out, their children say, “Let’s put money in the tzedakah box!” They get it — it is a habit!
This past week in eJewishphilatropy.com a column posted Feb. 25 by The Lapin Group gave this information:
Among people who recall their parents frequently supporting nonprofit organizations, 52 percent are themselves donors today.
Among those who saw their parents provide occasional support, 46 percent are now donors.
But among people who rarely or never saw their parents model this behavior, only 26 percent are donors today — half the proportion of those who say their parents gave frequently.
Talking to children about philanthropy has an impact too:
When parents did this frequently, 51 percent of today’s adults are donors.
When parents did this occasionally, 44 percent are donors.
When parents rarely or never did this, just 32 percent are donors.
Statistics tell an interesting story — if you have children, take note; if you don’t yet (or your children are grown), think about your parents and what they instilled in you. What are the many little things we do to help others? The big donations are not the only ones that count. Last week, I was at a conference. While attending sessions, my husband explored the city. That evening he told me that he bought a homeless man a pair of shoes. It is not about the money — it is about dignity and caring. Teach by your example — that is the only way we teach.
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady,
Laura Seymour, Director, Camping Services, Aaron Family Jewish Community Center