Tuesday, December 20, 2011

8 Nights of Giving #HanukkahHoopla

What's HanukkahHoopla? Thanks to Renee for her great idea to set this up! Make sure you follow our hashtag (#HanukkahHoopla) on Twitter because over the next 8 days, we're all going to be posting great Chanukah content - 16 different bloggers!
I hate to break it to everyone, but Chanukah really isn't about gifts. There are a number of themes that have developed over time, but at its core, it's about standing up for what you believe in and freedom of religion. So in that spirit, I'd like to kick off my participation in the #HanukkahHoopla by highlighting 8 organizations that celebrate freedom.

1. The Agahazo-Shalom Youth Village: I believe that education is one of the highest pillars of freedom. This Youth Village provides a safe place and an education to orphaned youth in Rwanda. It was founded by a Jewish couple who wanted to have an impact on the world, and their project was picked up by the JDC, making it viable and successful.  You can donate here.

2. Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind: I'm not a big fan of animals, and dogs make me (achoo) sneeze. But I do see their immense benefit in certain situations, in particular for the blind. Talk about offering freedom to a person locked into a world of dependence! This organization helps pair people with dogs, train dogs, and raise awareness.

3. Yad LaKashish - Lifeline for the Old in Israel: You've probably heard of this organization, which offers empowerment to elderly and disabled people in Jerusalem by creating a safe workshop where they create beautiful artwork.

4. Dress for Success: This is a great organization that helps to empower women who are entering the workforce and might not have the appropriate attire for job interviews or work. What a great way to instill freedom, to help someone to get a job for themselves.

5. Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute: OSRUI is the Reform Jewish camp that serves the midwest region and provides an amazing Jewish experience for over a thousand Jewish kids and young adults each summer and year-round. I believe that Jewish summer camp is the ultimate in offering freedom to our campers - the freedom to become empowered Jewish adults. (Maybe you want to find a URJ camp in your own region? Click here.)

6. Israel Sport Center for the Disabled: Did you know that Israel is on the cutting edge of wheelchair sports training? We all know that sports empower kids and adults - imagine how much more if that child or adult is wheelchair-bound? I have met some of the athletes from this Center and I was so impressed with their poise and confidence.

7. Jewish Heart for Africa's Light Up Africa Chanukah Campaign: Did you know that $20 provides electricity for one person in Africa for LIFE? That is amazing. This organization is using Israeli technology to provide water and electricity in Africa. Think of how freeing it must be to have light and water when before you had none.

8. Jchoice.org - Okay, so this isn't one specific organization. But JChoice.org is the ultimate in Tzedakah freedom. Let yourself loose on this website and you will most definitely find an organization or cause that speaks to you. Give your family members the gift of the freedom of choice by allowing them to choose a recipient for the tzedakah dollars that you give to them. A really great opportunity to learn and give at the same time.

How can you use this list? Make your own donations. Use this list as a jumping off point to other organizations. Discuss these ideas with your friends and family and make your own lists. Coming up later in the week - Chanukah gifts of action...(And here's a post linking your gifts of tzedakah to the recipient's interests...)

AND NOW...a Chanukah giveaway! 

One lucky reader will win a great gift package from Mama Doni and Streit's:

Mama Doni’s Shabbat Shaboom CD
Mama Doni poster
Download card for free Mama Doni songs (1 Chanukah song and 1 Passover song)
Bag of Streit’s Chanukah gelt.

I would like to thank Streit's and Doni Zasloff Thomas a.k.a. Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band for providing each of the 16 bloggers involved in #HanukkahHoopla with a little cyber-swag. Their cross-promotional alliance is designed to celebrate Jewish culture with the young generation, a mission of both Mama Doni and Streit’s.

How can you win? Leave me a comment. What is your favorite Tzedakah organization? 

Be sure to leave me your email address (some people like to type it like this: "imabima (at) gmail.com" which saves you from spam)

On January 5, 2012, I will select one winner at random. 

Prefer to be contacted via Twitter? Leave your Twitter handle in your comment and I will tweet you if you win.

Not interested in winning? You can still leave a comment! I love to read your words. Just write: "No prize necessary" in your comment.


Renee Schuls Jacobson said...

Good morning! You are so right! Judaism's devotion to tikun olam -- healing the world -- has led to some amazing philanthropic endeavors.

I love to support our local Federation which then distributes the money to all our local Jewish groups -- Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Chabad. And also because they help the general public through working with Jewish Family service, which assists in everything from career counseling to providing social services: the list goes on.

At the end of the year, what better way to give back than with a little tzedukkah (charity) to one or more of these wonderful organizations!

Thank you for participating in all the Hoopla! And have a bright and shiny Hanukkah! ;-)

Anonymous said...

This is a great post idea, because as you stated, Chanukah is about freedom of religion and being bold about what you believe! It was fun to visit here! Happy Chanukah!

Erin Margolin said...

WHat a fantastic idea for a Hanukkah Hooplah post, Rabbi! I love this list. Thank you for sharing it! I posted it on my FB wall and shared on Twitter, too!

Galit Breen said...

Good teaching, woman! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for including Yad L'kashish on your list. It's been one of my favorite organizations since I met Miriam Mendelow in 1986 and visited the workshops. Chanukah gifts for my teachers came from them this year!

Chag Urim Sameach!

Lisa Goldstein

Deb said...

I had no idea that $20 could do so much.

That reframes the question for me of what's a good way to spend $20.

I'll be thinking of these throughout the next couple of weeks, I lay a foundation for my 2012 giving. Thank you.

Jack said...

Boker Tov from LA. I have very fond memories of my first visit to Yad l'Kashish.

It was 1985 and I was a 16 year-old kid who was shocked by how much I enjoyed our visit.

Anonymous said...

Great post and great way to kick off #HanukkahHoopla! I completely agree about too much emphasis on gifts. In our house, we actually don't do gifts right now. My 4-year-old gets plenty from relatives and us throughout the year. So for the holidays (and while she's still young), we'd rather emphasize the holiday itself and not the gifts.

Susanne said...

Your timing could not be better. My son (14) has asked that we give him two things from his wish list, and give tzedakah on his behalf the other nights. He was very moved by a recent radio story about a girl who hoped for new shoes for Christmas. This list is so helpful.

-Susanne (@sshavelson)

Megali said...

I needed to read this. I've been trying to find a way to refigure the holiday in our household. We always make sure one night is about giving to others (this year the kids' choice was our local SPCA) but the miracle and freedom from persecution aspects get lost in my young sons' excitement over PRESENTS! I always appreciate learning about new organizations to support. Thank you! @AMegaliLife

Anonymous said...

So now I feel guilty because my post is ALL about gifts. ;) Seriously though, what a great post!

No prize necessary.

And Happy Hanukkah!

Jendeis said...

Great post! At the end of the year, we decide how much we'll give and then split that up amongst 10 different organizations. Some of the groups change from year to year, depending on our own priorities, but we always make sure to include Mazon, a Jewish response to hunger.

Anonymous said...

i like Hillel. my twitter is @redsoxdad

Ellen Zmmerman said...

What a great list! There are several organizations I wouldn't have heard of without your post. We'll share the list with others, too.

We also like to donate to http://www.mazon.org.

Happy Hanukkah!

Rivki Silver said...

This is such a beautiful idea for a post - kol hakavod! We do a lot of our giving to organizations that immediately impacted us - the yeshivah and seminary that my husband and I attended, respectively. Also a couple of organizations that made a big difference in our lives.

It's nice to see some other choices. There are so many good ones out there.

Happy Chanukah!

(no prize for me, please)