In my sermon a few weeks ago (and reprinted here on the website) I wrote about Hanukkah, the gifting that takes place at this season and the ways in which many tangible gifts are, in fact, unwanted by the recipient. I wrote
…perhaps we need to rethink the balance and direct some of our part of that $4 billion toward doing something that will make a difference. The number of organizations that can benefit from such philanthropy is tremendous. But even more powerful than our individual gift is the way our actions can be expanded when done as part of a larger community.
What if, for example, this year each of our households were to pick an issue and not only donate to it, but also promote it within our Temple community. It could be as simple as sending us an email that says,
“For Chanukah this year we made a family donation to ___ organization in place of a gift one night. As part of that gift we want to tell you about the organization, why we picked it, how they do good in the world and how you too can get involved.”
Striking the right balance is what I’d like to encourage this year, and I would love to see members of our community using our Temple website, our Temple blog, and our Temple Facebook page to share their answers to those questions.
Temple Leader Ellen Musicant shared the following:
For the past several years we have been exchanging charity with the family members. At Jason’s urging we put aside the shopping and wrapping and unwrapping and put thought into the donations we make and the people who need them.
This year I will be focusing on The Community FoodBank of NJ and Reading is Fundamental. I have the naive view that if everyone has a full belly and can read & write, the world will be a more peaceful place to live and our planet with survive the human epoch. I believe Peter will be donating to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
In the past we have also given Chanukah tributes to Habitat for Humanity, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Nature Conservancy, and planted trees in Israel through JNF.
Is your family doing something similar this year? Please let us know so we can share it with the rest of the TSTI family and encourage one another to do the same.