Everything You Need to Know About Tzedakah

While many people think of tzedakah as charity, the word actually means "justice," specifically, doing the right things by helping people or causes in need. There are lots of ways to do tzedakah, but the most common way is giving money to the poor or other worthwhile causes. Tzedakah can also include donating food, clothing, and other necessities, or volunteering one's time to assist the needy.

Child putting money in tzedakah box

As a parent, modeling charitable acts is a great way to teach your child the value of tzedakah, and studies have found that it leads to marked increases in children's self-esteem and feelings of empowerment. Learn more, find ideas for tzedakah projects, and kick off your family’s own tzedakah practice with the resources below.

READ

Bagels From Benny by Aubrey Davis

Recommended for children 5 to 6 years old

While working in his grandfather’s bakery, Benny learns the joys of giving and receiving, caring and gratitude.


How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter Inside a Tiny Blue Box by Linda Heller

Recommended for children 5 to 6 years old

As Dalia explores tzedakah with her friends, she creates a box where she can keep the money she’s saving to help those in need. In the process Dalia, her friends and her little brother Yossi learn about the power and joy of giving to others


Jumping Jenny by Ellen Bari

Recommended for children 6 to 7 years old

Jenny loves to jump, but when her energetic jumping gets her into trouble, she decides to retire her pogo stick. Then her school decides to hold a fundraising fair, and she discovers that her skill can be used for a good cause.


Noah’s Swim-a-thon by Ann D. Koffsky

Recommended for children 5 to 6 years old

Noah loves everything about summer camp -- except swimming. Nothing can get Noah into the pool until he learns about the camp swim-a-thon that will help give other children a chance to attend the camp he loves.


What Zeesie Saw on Delancy Street by Elsa Okon Rael

Recommended for children ages 6 and up

In the early 1900’s on the Lower East Side, a seven-year-old girl learns lessons of community, generosity, and courage from the Jewish immigrant population.


WATCH

These short videos teach children—and parents—how to “get with the giving.”

Get With the Giving via Shaboom! from BimBam

Helping Those in Need via Shalom Sesame

What's Jewish about Giving? A Video For Parents! via BimBam

DO

MAKE AND DECORATE A TZEDAKAH BOX

Turn an old matzah box, cereal box, oatmeal container, or tissue holder into a special tzedakah box. Being part of creating a special box for weekly tzedakah contributions helps kids feel extra invested in the practice. While you color, create, and draw, you can also brainstorm ideas for ways to use the money in the box.

START A ROUTINE

Kids understand that when they give presents to friends or family or share a favorite toy they make the people around them happy. As kids get older, and their sense of empathy develops, they also understand the concepts of fairness. Tzedakah is about making sure that all of the world's resources (food, water, clothing, education, shelter, etc.) are shared justly. Starting a weekly tzedakah practice as part of your Shabbat routine is a wonderful way for families to reinforce this very special Jewish value. For a list of family tzedakah ideas, see this post.

MORE

Age-Appropriate Tzedakah Ideas
Making Tzedakah a Shabbat Tradition
Tzedakah 101 via MyJewishLearning
Teaching Tzedakah to Children via kveller.com

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