Sunday, March 19, 2006

Guidance for Tzeddaka Distribution
A Letter to the Baltimore Community

A friend sent this letter to me that was distributed by the Vaad HaRabbonim Rabbinical Council of Greater Baltimore. It speaks for itself so there is no need to add any commentary (although I welcome your comments).

The letter follows below:

11 Shevat 5766
February 9, 2006

To the Members of the Baltimore Jewish Community:
מרובים צרכי עמך

There are many most worthy causes and needy individuals amongst our people.
There Baltimore community is known for the generous manner with which it welcomes and supports these causes and needs. This is a source of great pride to all of us, and we hope and pray that we are able to continue to be supportive of one and all.

At the same time, all of us seek to exercise the proper judgment in the distribution of our Tzeddaka monies, making sure that we address our primary responsibilities meaningfully and effectively. As such the Vaad HaRabbonim wishes to take this opportunity to guide the community in this most important matter.

We encourage you to continue to be sensitive and responsive to one and all. Yet we must also encourage you all to plan you Tzeddaka allocations appropriately.

עניי עירך קודמים: While we welcome one and all, we must recognize our primary obligation to local causes and needs. We should be allocating most of our discretionary Tzeddaka fund to local causes and needs.

תינוקות של בית רבן: The proper funding of day school education is clearly one of our greatest challenges. Our families and our Mechanchim sacrifice immeasurably for the Chinuch of our children. This responsibility needs to be shared by the entire community. In former times when Jewish communal life was stronger, taxes were imposed on all members of the community to fund the Chinuch of the community's children. Today we can only encourage all of the members of our community - whether they have children in the schools or not - to consider our community's schools their first priority in their Tzeddaka allocations.

Individuals who receive tuition reductions from their child's school schould certainly view that school as their priority in allocating their discretionary Tzeddaka monies.

We hope and pray that in the merit of our generosity we will soon see the day of Redemption, when ציון במשפט תפדה שבי׳ בצדקה

Editor's note: Since I was not clear, I think this letter is fantastic and hope to see more letters like it from other Rabbinic Counsels soon. What would be even better would be if there was more concrete action and not just words.


Pragmatician said...

I'm not sure form your introduction whether you approve or disapprove, in any case I think they make a good point and what they write has a strong basis in Halachah.

Orthonomics said...

I approve completely. Most of our funds must be kept local. As we learn in Pirkei Avot, if I am not for me, who will be?

For an interesting discussion, check out the comments here:

Anonymous said...

I'm digging into the back story behind this letter; if what I've found out is true, there's quite an interesting lead-up to this letter.

Orthonomics said...

Greg: I will be waiting for you follow-up. Please keep me posted.

Anonymous said...

Dr Marvin Schick ran a series of ads on this and related issues that the Jewish Press published but that Yated and HaModia rejected-for reasons that are obvious to anyone familiar to those publications.

Anonymous said...

SL - I suggest that if you didn't see the ads Steve refers to above, you should send an e-mail to Dr. Marvin Schick ( and ask him for a copy of the series of ads (his recent series of full page ads related to Jewish education in The Jewish Press. They ran about three months ago I think). I believe there were 10 or twelve full page ads. Overall they were very good. They would give you some fine food for thought and possible posting.

Orthonomics said...

Steve and anon-I have copies of all of Mr. Schick's ads and plan to eventually do a series on them. I have so many ideas for posts (month's worth) and so little time to sit uninteruppted and write. But, there is one ad in particular that I LOVED and maybe I will start by addressing that one first.