Giving tzedakah is a huge part of Jewish life, and it’s one of the biggest values you can teach your kids in becoming better community leaders, and compassionate individuals. Here are some fun ways you can introduce your young ones and older ones the concept of tzedakah and charity work. It’s never too early or late to care for your fellow man.
Aw, Just One More Story…
Make these bonding moments before bed even more meaningful with stories about giving, emphasizing the importance and the way it impacts on our Jewish values. You can make up your own stories or you can read ‘Ko Asu Chachamenu’ type series books. Other creative stories that explore the chesed of giving are: How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter Inside a Tiny Blue Box: And Other Wonders of Tzedakah by, Linda Heller, Ten Tzedakah Pennies by, Joni Klein-Higger, and A Thread of Kindness: A Tzedakah Story by, Leah-Perl Shollar
Yes, Shopping Is a Mitzvah
Grocery shopping or running errands can be meaningful too. Give your kids a few coins when you go out, and emphasize that there may be a poor, hungry person waiting for money to feed his family. On your regular grocery shopping run, you can also buy extra canned food for your kids to drop off at your local charity collecting bins. Depending on where you live, these bins can be found in libraries, schools, or even the grocery store itself. Ask around in your neighborhood or community to find the donation drive nearest you.
Tell your kids about the mitzvah of ma’aser, giving 10-20% of your earnings to tzedakah. Give your kids a little extra allowance to put aside to the charity of their choice or to a financially burdened family. You can also advocate for organizations with a good cause, or donate to your local synagogue instead, which is a great resource for giving to needy people in your community. Have your child put the ma’aser money into a tzedaka box, and reserve the time to drop off the money together when the tzedakah box is full.
Activities and Arts & Crafts with a Heart
Here are some easy and meaningful projects to keep your kids busy, creative, and caring. Don’t forget to encouraging your kids to talk about how they understand the value of giving.
- Make your own tzedaka box
- Buy zedakah themed puzzles or coloring books
- Make a collage out of old magazine pictures to include images of chesed and tzedaka
- Make ‘Thinking of you’ cards to family and friends abroad, or ‘Get well’ cards to community members who are sick
- Be spontaneous with your kids, by finding someone in need in your community, and stuff some money in their mailbox. Inform your kid that anonymous tzedakah giving is the ultimate and most desirable form of charity
A Time to Give
Our kids need to know that charity is not reserved for special occasions, but rather can and should be done daily, and most importantly, with joy. The message we want to give our kids, is that there are endless amount of opportunities throughout the week to give charity, especially before Shabbat. Jewish tradition tells us that giving tzedakah before lighting candles is a special segula, so make a point of calling your kids over and show them how it’s done. In sum, mitzvah goreret mitzvah- giving makes you a better person, better parent, and a better mensch.
Which ideas will you include in your daily routine?