Friday, June 24, 2005

Tzedakah and tzedakah boxes

When I was a kid, we had an empty (washed) Manischewitz gefilte fish jar that we used for a tzedakeh box. Every Shabbos, before lighting, we'd put money into the gefilte fish jar. The impression it made on me was so strong that when I went off to college I felt I needed my own gefilte fish jar. (I also had a mezuzah for my dorm room, and candlesticks and all that. But a gefilte fish jar. Essential, man.)

The reason I'm thinking about this is not that I'm wishing for gefilte fish, but that in the process of packing I've just packed a tzedakah box that was given to me as a going-away present at the most miserable Jewish community job I ever had. It's one of the ones that's heavy resin, shaped and painted to look like an historic synagogue.

I hated the job, and for some reason the parting gift was the cherry on the whipped cream. But I kept it, out of some vague belief that if I got rid of it, I was putting my reaction to the gift ahead of its' intended use.

Sadly, in the years since I took this replica mini Newport synagogue into my home, I have not been as systematic or as consistent about giving money where I think it needs to go as I would like. I dump change in through the shul roof, and I write checks now and then. But what I would like is to have an obligation to give like I have an obligation to pay the bills--when I get paid, sit down and write a couple of checks to make the world a better place.

I think I need to get another gefilte fish jar, make out a short list of addresses, and get with the program. And possibly give the Newport synagogue a new home, although I actually feel less hostile toward it now that I'm no longer expecting it to monitor my giving for me.

1 comment:

Elisheva said...

I think I need to get another gefilte fish jar, make out a short list of addresses, and get with the program.

Good for you - Kol HaKavod! I'm enjoying your blog very much btw.