Editor’s note: This is the letter from a client of Jewish Family & Career Services that Executive Director Judy Freundlich Tiell read at the Ben Gurion Society event.
What tzedakah means to me.
When I turned 10 years old, I learned that tzedakah has more than one meaning. This year I learned that you can give tzedakah and you can receive tzedakah all at the same time.
When I was little, I started bringing tzedakah to Sunday School and a can of food, too. I still do that. Every year we go through the clothes we have and give the ones we can’t wear anymore to the poor and to the people that live in shelters. My parents used to give money to charities and stuff like that too.
During the last year my mom had to stop working because my baby sister was born too soon. She gets sick very easily and gets some therapies too so she can catch up to other babies that are her age. My dad works fewer hours these days because people don’t need his services as much so he brings home less money than we need. That is why I learned that we can receive tzedakah and give it at the same time.
This year my family had to get some help so that we could stay in our house and so that we could pay our bills and have food to eat. Sometimes we eat too much spaghetti or macaroni and cheese and not enough fruit, but my mom makes sure we always have food. She gets very embarrassed because she has to ask for help from JFCS. The people that help us know that someday things will be better for my family and then we will be able to send the tzedakah instead of getting it from them. Even when my mom needs to get help with food from JFCS, she still sends a can of food with me to give during Sunday School.
Sometimes people can be very mean when you owe them money. Sometimes when you have to pay bills and you do not have enough money than they turn off your lights. This is never good. This is a reason why tzedakah is very good.
I had a very good birthday and Hanukkah this year because of something called Hanukkah Helpers. Hanukkah Helpers is a very good kind of tzedakah.
What tzedakah means to me is giving away when you can and getting when you need to. It is a very good way to make people able to live without worrying all the time. I really like to give tzedakah to people that need it and I’m glad there are people around to help my family, too.