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Feb 20 2014

My Daughter Has Way Too Many Toys. How Can I Raise Her To Appreciate What She Has?

By at 11:43 am

toys

Our daughter has the lucky advantage of being the first grandchild and having incredibly generous and thoughtful grandparents, aunties and uncles, and friends who have gifted her everything and more than a toddler could dream. She’s got toys, books, puzzles, stuffed animals, Legos, blocks, dolls, Play-Dough, art supplies galore, musical instruments, a kitchen set, a doll house, balls, a scooter, games, her very own swing-set outside in the backyard, and she’s only 2.5 years old!

Not only does she have more than she needs, she also has more than she can handle. She plays with maybe half of her toys, though she likes to pull 98 percent of them out when friends come over to play. I am nervous that we are setting a precedent and potentially creating a child who will feel super entitled and will want more, and more, and more, and NOW. How do we make sure she appreciates all that she has in the world? Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 14 2014

Turns Out Shabbat and Valentine’s Day Have a Lot in Common

By at 11:43 am

shabbat

Tonight I’m planning dinner by candlelight. It will engage all five senses, with attention lavished on the tiniest details, including our wedding china instead of Corelle, and soup that requires a trip to the butcher instead of just a can opener. They say oysters are an aphrodisiac, but I’m banking on the kneidelach my husband likes: the firmer, the better. Ah, February 14th.

Isn’t this how Shabbat should always go?

My kids’ preschool director sent an email out reminding parents that “we celebrate love and caring all year long, but we do not celebrate Valentine’s Day at school.” Last V-Day, when my son found a cupcake in his cubby with the Post-It note reading “Baked with love in our kosher home,” he thought it was a happy coincidence.

No valentines, no candy hearts–would Friday be any fun? Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 21 2013

Friday Night: Repairing the World Means Helping People

By at 10:12 am

tikkun olam tedJoining PJ Library is one of the best things we’ve done as parents. Every month a new Jewish book arrives at our home and Lila learns about a Jewish holiday or concept through a story that’s meaningful to her. Several PJ Library books–like the Hanukkah counting book and the Dayenu”-centric Passover book–have become diaper bag must-haves, genuine favorites that we have read countless times. Perhaps because our experience has been so superlative, I was surprised by a disappointing recent selection.

Tikkun Olam Ted tells the story of a boy who is small in stature but does big things. He works to repair the world daily, and this storybook covers one presumably typical week. Each day, Ted does a different, vividly illustrated Tikkun Olam project. And whenever we finish the book, Lila enthusiastically chants, “’gain!,” eager for an encore reading.  Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 18 2012

A Hanukkah Without Presents: A Report From the Trenches

By at 4:29 pm

“On the first night of Hanukkah, my mommy gave to me,” my 13-year-old son began singing, as the 9-year-old and 5-year-old joined him in the chorus, “Absolutely no-ooooo-thing!”

Well, it’s not like they weren’t warned.

A good week before Hanukkah started, I informed my kids that, due to the damage done by Hurricane Sandy, with people not 50 miles away losing everything they owned, not to mention the high unemployment rate, the millions of people going hungry all around the world, and the fact that my children already had so much stuff they couldn’t even manage to keep their rooms clean, there would be no Hanukkah gifts this year. Instead, we would spend the eight days of the holiday doing good deeds, and the eight nights discussing them as we lit our candles. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 11 2012

The Fifth Night Project: Teaching Giving During Hanukkah

By at 11:15 am

box of toy donations for charityLet’s face it; in order to help Jewish children from feeling left out of the Christmas season, Hanukkah has lost much of it’s traditional meaning and has become a holiday based around eight nights of presents. Customarily, Hanukkah is celebrated with candles, dreidels, and latkes; the eight crazy nights of toys and books was only added to compete with Christmas. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 6 2012

I Never Liked Hanukkah, But I Do Like Tzedakah

By at 9:43 am

So–it’s almost Hanukkah, just about everyone’s favorite holiday. Gifts, gelt (Yidd., money), no fasting, no standing in shul for hours, no cooking for big family meals, nice lighting-the-menorah ritual.

Well, I never liked it. Despite the gifts, I didn’t like it even as a kid.

As a first generation American on my father’s side (especially grateful to this country since everyone who was not here were killed by the Nazis,) and a third generation American on my mother’s, I am a very patriotic American with a strong American identity.

But every Hanukkah, I felt like the “other.” Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 13 2012

It’s Not Too Late to Vote

By at 3:31 pm

pj library kveller tzedakah campaignElection day may have come and gone, but voting is still going strong in Kveller and PJ Library’s $5,000 tzedakah giveaway!

We’ve got 10 amazing not-for-profit organizations (as nominated by you) competing for $5,000 from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and you can vote once a day, every day, until November 30th.

You may not get an “I Voted Today” sticker, but you can sure rest easy knowing you’re helping the charity of your choice.

Click here to vote today (and tomorrow, and the next day, etc.)!

**And remember, families in the New York metro area can still sign up to receive free Jewish books from PJ Library through Kveller by clicking here

Nov 7 2012

Q&A With Hurricane Sandy’s Youngest Relief Workers

By at 12:01 pm

Lulu and Burke, age 5, sold milk and cookies to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy. They raised money to give to Masbia Soup Kitchen in New York. We have an exclusive Q&A with these two generous (and adorable) kiddos.

Was Hurricane Sandy scary?

Yes, because it broke down everything. It was so windy and rainy. Guess what? Red Hook lost electricity, the traffic lights ran out and I was thinking about the houses. I felt cozy in my house. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 6 2012

How to Donate Without Opening Your Wallet

By at 9:44 am

Donate clothes your children have outgrown or just don't wear

As part of our month-long series dedicated to Women, Work & Money, Alina Adams shares her strategy for donating time and skills instead of money.

When I wrote my earlier piece about how to save money by (primarily) not caring about what other people had, I stressed that it applied to those in your higher and comparable financial strata. Caring about people who have less than we do is a completely different issue.

However, when it comes to tzedekah, I have chosen to teach my children that there are ways to contribute other than monetarily. Not only because, as a teacher and a writer living in New York City with three kids in private school we don’t have a lot to spare, but also because I truly believe that giving means more when you actively do something to heal the world, rather than merely pay someone else to take care of what you perceive to be a problem. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 5 2012

You Can Be A Philanthropist (Really!)

By at 1:59 pm

As part of our month-long series dedicated to Women, Work & Money, Tamar Snyder highlights the best ways for women to get involved with philanthropy.

Women rarely refer to themselves as philanthropists. We tend to think that the term refers only to the uber-wealthy–to people like Bill Gates, Michael Steinhardt, and the Bronfmans (all men!). But that’s not the case.

In fact, a growing body of research on men, women, and charitable giving suggests that women of all ages–especially Baby Boomers and older–are more likely to give to charity and give more than their male counterparts. This is true even though women still earn less than men, on average; live longer and tend to be more risk averse. Read the rest of this entry →

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