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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Fantastic Cause, but a Ridiculous Claim

The letters and slick brochures for matanot l'evyonim for Purim and Pesach are pouring in. Each organization has their own heart wrenching stories to tell, their own unique ways to attract donors, and their own way of distributing the funds.

The plain truth should be enough reason for people to open up their hearts and wallets and make a donation. So, why make incredulous claims?

The most recent letter (make that brochure) promises "You have the power to determine how many families will be able to escape the vicious circle of poverty, distress and despondency!" Excellent, I thought. What is the unique product they are offering to help families escape poverty? Vocational training programs? Job counseling and placement services? Free or affordable business classes and seminars? Apprenticeship programs?

A quick look at the budget revealed that none of this is part of the programming. The services offered are fine and worthy ones and some of the services may even provide more than just relief of hunger. Putting food on the tables of hungry children and families is an incredible mitzvah, but putting food on the tables will not help anyone escape the vicious cycle of poverty. There is no need to make incredible claims that are not attainable through the programs offered when the pure and unadulterated truth should be sufficient enough to attract donors.

But now that the claim has been made, I must say that I would be thrilled to send my check to an organization that offers vocational training, counseling, and job placement programs in the Israeli charedi community I would love the opportunity to help fellow Jews escape from the vicious cycle of poverty, the highest level of tzedakah. But, I know that for the most part the programs being offered only provide temporary relief rather than the opportunity for more long term relief. I'm patiently awaiting this letter's arrival (no need for a slick brochure, please) in my mailbox.

4 comments:

brianna said...

Excellent point. Try footsteps.org, though. They offer vocational training etc. to chasidim who want to get somewhere.

Pragmatician said...

I think the same thing when I get those brochures, and I'd rather give money to teach someone how to cath fish rather than just eat one.

ליטוואק said...

I believe this charity claims an approach along the lines you seek - http://www.paamonim.com/
IIRC, R. Hershel Schachter is involved with it.

Charlie Hall said...

Isn't giving someone the opportunity to earn their own parnassah the highest form of tzdakah?