28 November 2012

Philanthropic Considerations #1: Personal Excitement

With yesterday having been "Giving Tuesday", I realized I had some thoughts I would like to share about giving.  However, I have not a little to share.  So, I have a few posts coming out soon (including this one) in which I will be discussing philanthropy.
     When I came out to California a little over three years for my job, I was excited not only to have a job and to go out and serve the Jewish people, but I was particularly enthralled to be philanthropic and to make financial donations.  It is a Jewish obligation that when one earns money, one is supposed to give a portion of it back to the Jewish community.  For me, that was something particularly exciting about owrking: to do my part in supporting Jewish institutions and organizations to enrich Jewish life.
     For me, I do what I call "planned giving", where my wife and I set aside a certain amount of money for that year that we will donate.  It is my responsibility (and honor) to divvy up where the money is going to go.  While I plan to give money for certain organizations, I also set aside some leeway in case of certain disasters or memorial funds, etc.
     Most of my giving is to either organizations from which I have benefited or am ideologically committed to.  At the top are our local Jewish Federation and my rabbinical school, followed less by my local shul/Chabad, then behind that comes both the Hillel and Chabad I frequented during my four semesters at IU and also two Modern Orthodox organizations doing good work: the Institute for Jewish Ideas & Ideals and the Center for Modern Torah Leadership.  Following those seven organizations, I have a larger number of organizations to which we give smaller amounts of money, some of which I have also benefitted from, but there are several to which we give that I feel do beneficial things and have never received any benefit from them. 
     We give because we understand the importance of the Jewish obligation to financially contribute from our earnings and it is encumbent upon us to make sure we give that money away - we just need to figure out where to give it and how much.  Granted, I enjoy fulfilling this obligation :)

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