Home February 2015 Keeping the Lights On

Keeping the Lights On

0215chesterWhen it seems the holidays have passed, and the emails asking for your philanthropic investments have abated, you realize that you’re Jewish, and these items will always be around, becoming perpetual life events.

Another day-off from work is inevitably lingering around the calendar-corner, and unless you delete your Gmail account, you’ll never get the words “click-here-to-give” out of your life. Sure, we have daily opportunities for personal prayer, weekly chances to celebrate Judaism through Shabbat, and G-d-knows (literally) how many holidays are sporadically dispersed throughout the year where we either don’t eat, or recognize that our ancestors did something so memorable, that we should celebrate the accomplishment by overeating (don’t schvitz, we’re all confused by the mixed food-signals).

At what point is religous practice and dietary traditions changing the world for the better? Are we eating to convalesce our neighbors? Praying to ensure that our community can maintain running water and electricity?

Eventually, we must deviate from giving back to just ourselves and immediate family, and accept that the seemingly incessant requests for tzedakah are coming for reasons more important than clogging an inbox or paying the mailman’s rent. This acceptance should be paired with finding one’s own understanding of why it feels good to give both time and money. Once the internal contemplation of, “Do I keep my money, and just volunteer some hours” occurs, you know you’re wrestling with potentiating your social justice.

The “money vs. time” struggle can cause turmoil for both donors and organizations. Individuals often fit into one of three categories in this regard. The first two being less than ideal; either only having time to give, but no money, or donating financially without contributing the hours. Ideally, everybody would give some of each! Unfortunately, not everybody has the means. The important thing is to work towards finding a balance.

There are many things which are necessary to run an operation that would not be possible without financial resources. For example, an office necessitates basic utilities: rent, electricity and upkeep. Yet these details often slip through donors’ minds.

It might help to conceptually compare an operation into terms akin to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which outlines the growth of humans. Growth cannot occur until basic necessities are met, which in the case of an organization, are funding and time contributed.

In order to help others, our philanthropic actions must be taken into our own accord, and acted upon our own volition. Without a strong balance between time and financial philanthropy, and a sense of who is affected, the routine of eating, fasting, and being Jewish turns into nothing more than meaningless tradition.  Α

Adam Chester graduated from UCSD with a degree in Clinical Psychology and is the NextGen Outreach & Engagement Coordinator at JFFS.

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