Eric A. Shapiro, the author’s father
On April 28, 2007, a day after my 24th birthday, my father passed away after a six-month battle with brain cancer.
My father’s recipe for living was tikkun olam, healing the world and working to leave it a better place than he found it—both professionally and personally. Following a family tradition, he became a physician. He truly embodied the image of the small town doctor who took care of all, regardless of background or circumstance. He cared about each and every one of his patients, and he always went out of his way to make sure they got exactly what they needed. This often meant making house calls, going head to head with insurance companies or lobbying to change hospital policy. He even stood on his head as a reward to a patient who quit smoking! In his own way, he strived to heal the world, one patient at a time. In his personal life, he was a very involved and loving father, husband, son, brother and friend. He always did his best for everyone who touched his life.
What is it about the holiday of Sukkot that makes it so powerful? Tradition teaches that the energy of Sukkot is so intense, so visceral and delightful, that seven mythic figures leave the Garden of Eden to join in the light of our earthly sukkot (temporary shelters). But why? What is it about the sukkah that compels even those who have tasted Paradise?
These spirit guests, known as the Ushpizin, are invited each night into our sukkot. Groupings of Ushpizin vary by community, and include biblical prophetess, revered sages and modern heroes, invoked in turn each night of Sukkot. Jewish mystical tradition suggests that each guest also serves as a reminder of an action through which the brokenness of our world is repaired.
AJWS’s small but mighty marathon team will soon embark on a journey that will test their physical and mental strength: the 2013 New York City Marathon. Inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, these nine runners have already spent months tirelessly training to tackle 26.2 miles.
In addition to training for the race on November 3, the team is dedicating its efforts to raising money—more than $21,000—to support AJWS’s work in the developing world. You can support the team here.
So, who are these runners and what motivates them to seize this challenge? Here’s what they had to say for themselves:
Originally posted on the blog of Ask Big Questions.
Like many people in my generation, I first associated tzedakah, the Hebrew word loosely understood to mean “charity,” with the pushke—the little metal box given out in Hebrew school, rusting on my parents’ windowsill.
I learned in the 1950s that Jews were supposed to collect pennies in the pushke to plant trees in Israel. There was no passion or intensity embedded in this ritual; no real understanding of the values or texts behind this seemingly strange act of generosity; and no opportunity to innovate. It was just something Jews did. Read More
Originally published on the blog of Pursue: Action for a Just World.
On June 20, Pursuers will join AJWS and Global Circle to see the winning entries from the Where Do You Give? National Design Competition and engage with innovative speakers about giving in the 21st century. As a preview to the event, we asked speaker Karen Pittelman to share her personal approach to giving. Read the interview below and click here to see Karen’s full bio and register for the event.
How did you first become involved in issues of philanthropy and privilege?
I was in college when I realized that if I truly believed that the distribution of wealth was unjust, I had to do something about my three million dollar trust fund. After a long process with my family, at 25 I was able to gain control over the trust and dissolve it to form the Chahara Foundation. I worked together with a group of amazing women activists, lead by Chahara’s director Deahdra Butler Henderson, to establish the fund. Then I transitioned out and transferred all decision-making power over to them. To me what was most important was not redistributing the money but redistributing the powerover the money. Over the course of nine years, ending in 2008 when the board finished spending down, the fund gave grants to grassroots groups in Boston led by and for, in the foundation’s words, “women and girls who have known poverty and may still be intimate with its ravages… in their endeavors to reshape community to allow for a higher economic, creative and spiritual quality of life.” Read More
Cross-posted on the Global Circle blog.
I enjoyed reading Sandy Cardin’s piece in eJewishPhilanthropy about the future of Jewish giving. Cardin notes that, historically, philanthropy has been associated with giving away money. Younger generations, however, want to expand the definition to include the giving of time, energy and passion. Cardin writes: “Jews are among those at the nerve center of this growing movement of young people who do not just want to pay to build the trenches – they actually want to work in them.” He argues that this is a good thing; that Jewish institutions must adapt and respond to this demand; that the future of Jewish philanthropy should include the giving of time and money – “the best of both worlds.”
In celebration of AJWS’s “Where Do You Give” Design Competition, and in honor of the successful slew of “Sh** People Say” videos, we present:
Sh** Jews Say About Philanthropy… brought to you by members of the AJWS staff:
“Yes, dear, it has to be in multiples of 18.”
“I shouldn’t talk about it on Shabbos, but…”
“Is it Super Sunday? Again?”
“… and so your Uncle Morrie finally made it to America. And that is why we give money every year to those going through tough times.”
“Why get them something off the registry when we could get them a mezuzah? Everybody needs a mezuzah!” Read More
Originally posted on Pursue: Action for a Just World and cross-posted on eJewishPhilanthropy.
How do you make giving meaningful? Tzedakah, the Jewish commitment to righteous giving, is something that most people are familiar with. Tzedakah boxes are things of childhood memory for many Jews, except me. I tithed. Growing up with a Baptist mother, a Methodist father and educated in Catholic schools, the idea of giving charity was not lost on me. I can remember my mother reaching into her pocket book every Sunday morning to fish out crisp dollar bills for my sister and I to put in the collection plate that was passed around. I don’t remember what it felt like to put that money in the shiny gold plate, because it wasn’t my money.
As 2011 comes to a close, we’re making a case for giving to AJWS at the end of the year. So, without further ado, here are the top five reasons to give a year-end tax-deductible gift to AJWS today:
1. Your generous contribution will change the lives of some of the world’s most marginalized people. In 2011 we impacted communities in 32 countries, promoting human rights, advancing food justice and fighting HIV/AIDS. Your support will really make a difference to those in need.
2. We’re the only Jewish organization exclusively dedicated to this kind of tikkun olam — healing the world — in developing countries. Our approach to creating change is deeply rooted in Jewish tradition and sources. Read More