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Tzedakah from the Heart

Last week I was walking with my father and children in Manhattan. As we crossed 7th Avenue, I turned around to make sure my dad was by my side. Instead he was talking to a blind man and asked him if he needed help crossing. He indeed did. He took my dad’s hand and together they crossed the street. I stood with my children and we watched. We looked at each other and said, “Wow, did you see what papa just did? It’s so naturally a part of who is he is”. When he came back to us he didn’t say a word and we continued our walk. He taught us something life changing in that moment.

Growing up, my parents were very involved in our synagogue, in UJA, JNF, my mom in Hadassah, and they were always at meetings. I knew they were doing Jewish things to help the Jewish people in some way. I didn’t really realize until that moment in New York with my father that helping people in need was simply the way he lives his life everyday. That value is so a part of him, he doesn’t realize how extraordinary it truly is. He may also not realize that consciously or not that is how he and my mother taught their children about tzedakah. That’s how I learned from my parents, and I hope that’s how my children will learn from me.

Our children see tzedakah and do acts of tzedakah, but when it really becomes a part of their hearts, to truly see the world as a place where there is always an opportunity to make a difference in a life, that’s when they will live with a heart of Tikkun Olam.

I wonder. When Tikkun Olam is a part of our being, do we see more opportunities to engage in Tikkun Olam? Do we see things in the world in a different way and does the world present more of those opportunities to us?

As a professional in the Greater Hartford Jewish community I am blessed to bear witness to this everyday. I hear stories from people and about people who can see the opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. It’s how we experience in the world.

We heal the world in our everyday activities: visiting the sick, caring for our pets, giving someone a compliment, lending an ear to someone in pain. Maybe we just need to realize that we are practicing Tikkun Olam and that is enough to open the door to more opportunities for us to realize in our everyday lives.

As a community, can we create these opportunities for all of us?

At the Jewish Community Foundation we encourage these conversations. As we build community together, let’s make sure we build the space in our hearts that make Tikkun Olam a natural part of our everyday.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories on how Tikkun Olam is a part of your everyday. 

 

  Rise Roth is Vice President of Philanthropy at the Jewish Community Foundation.


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