Religion & Beliefs

Will The Real Tzedakah Please Stand Up?

I just found this great piece at Ritual Well, but also today, I've been thinking of my general inclination to match my tzedakah with my action. That is, for example, human rights organizations on Pesach (slavery and freedom being the … Read More

By / October 15, 2007

I just found this great piece at Ritual Well, but also today, I've been thinking of my general inclination to match my tzedakah with my action. That is, for example, human rights organizations on Pesach (slavery and freedom being the common themes there), water and wetland preservation efforts on Shemini Atzeret, and so on and so forth.

But, the thing I find to be endlessly frustrating… er, okay, one of many things I find to be endlessly frustrating is that in our time of having almost any information only a click away, there is so much information out in the world, and there are so many wonderful organizations seeming to be doing lots of good in the world, that is it hard to tell what is what, and even more difficult, at times, to figure out exactly what your money does where.

Enter, Just-Tzedakah, an organization, much like Charity Navigator, only with Jewciness in mind, giving information about various charities and links to each, and even the ability to donate and earmark right there. You can even link up your next simcha and have tzedakah all arranged. Oh snap!

It's still sometimes hard to tell which organizations best represent your values, but hopefully, this eases the way a bit and puts us a step closer. Because let us not forget, though we often mis-translate tzedakah as "charity", which includes actions like giving to the poor, suggests a sense of generosity, and delves into power structures a bit– something the wealthy (or at least better-able) do for the needy (and thereby less-able), the word tzedakah is derived from the root meaning righteousness, justice and fairness. Giving isn't a magnanimous gesture, but an obligation to share in the responsibility of tikkun olam– to do your part in caring for others and for repairing the world bit by bit.