By: Carly Friedman
Growing up, I lived and breathed for the Jewish community. From a young age, I loved youth groups, synagogue and really any project or group that allowed me to be a part of something greater. I was drawn to anything that created a sense of community for me. The values imparted to me from my parents, school and society all came together in youth movements and Jewish summer camp. I was able to learn, practice Judaism and contribute in a meaningful way all while feeling a strong sense of belonging that enveloped me with a significant sense of contribution and made my life meaningful.
Life for me was all about this sense of community. But it was easy. The opportunities were there, I simply had to jump on the train and I would be whisked off to meaningful world of Jewish values and a built in sense of contribution. But that all changed as I aged out of youth movements and summer camp.
I craved the feeling of being impactful, and I fueled that craving by seeking out any opportunity that would give me a sense of that consistent and daily contribution. Completing my MA in Nonprofit Management and working in the field of Jewish Nonprofit has been both a privilege and a lifeline for me, but it is not enough. Not everyone has the ability to work for the Jewish community.
We need more opportunities to allow adults to connect, commit to and actively contribute on a daily basis to the efforts of those tirelessly working to uphold Jewish values. And this isn’t just about me anymore. It is my responsibility as a parent to live these values and pass them on to my children. That’s why I was thrilled to open up a fund on My Tzedakah. Finally, I had an opportunity to contribute meaningfully on a monthly basis and provide consistent support. It was my chance to recommit to the Jewish community in a new and different way. More importantly, it was my chance to sit down with my children and explain to them what I was doing.
I love our family fund, because it truly represents my family’s values. Not just the adults in our family, but the kids too. Each one of us gets to choose a charity that we are passionate about. No age is too young, our children understand and crave opportunities to make grown up choices. When we trust them and consult with them on decisions about where we want our charity to go, they understand that their opinion matters and that we value making a commitment to the community. Opening up a fund with My Tzedakah allowed me to instill those values into the DNA of our family. I am so grateful for the opportunity to finally feel that sense of contribution again.