October 25, 2010

Helping Others – Tikkun Olam


Asia } Cambodia } Angkor Wat } Aug 2010
photo credit: travelmeasia

When I picked BabyGirl up from religious school on Sunday she had a paper with information about a family her class is adopting for the holidays. She drew a picture on the paper of a boy who has happy and holder her hand. She told me that she is going to buy him some things and then he will be able to go to school and play with his friends and that will make him happy.

Every week, twice a week, BabyGirl goes to religious school. And each time I make sure she has money to donate. It’s called tzedakah (suh-dock-uh). The translation is ‘charity’. Money is collected in special containers as part of the classroom and at the end of the year the money is given to a charity the class chooses.  This year, though, the class is raising money for two separate things. Until December they’re tzedakah will go to help outfit an ambulance in Israel.

Back to the ‘adopt a family’ program, though. The congregation is adopting 6 families in addition to the families each class will adopt. It’s part of our social action to help make our community and our world a better place. Tikkun Olam (tea-coon oh-lahm), it’s literal translation is ‘Repair the World’. It’s another way to describe charity.

But it’s more than just giving money. Tikkun olam is about actively helping others and reaching out to people in need. It can be anonymous, as is the case with the families. The names are not disclosed to us, but nonetheless we know their story and why they need help. The children are taught that by helping others we are fixing things that are not right in the world. And like many people who make charitable giving part of their family, it’s is a very important part of our family.

Regardless of what we have, if we can give of our time or our services or our money then we should help others. I learned this very early. I can’t think back to a time where tzedakah or tikkun olam weren’t part of my life. Even now, at 90, my grandmother still does for others. Never because we have to. Always because we want to.

It’s about doing good for others to make the world better, not to get recognition or credit. I was so proud of BabyGirl for understanding, at almost 8 years old, that even though she thinks I never give her things that there are children who truly don’t have. Immediately, she wanted to help. She even told the teacher that she will bring in a whole bag of stuff because she’s going to ask me for coupons. The teacher said BabyGirl suggested people check out my website if they want to get a lot of things with coupons or for free.  Gotta love my PR agency!

I grew up being that unnamed family that other children bought for. I was that child whose mother was embarrassed to ask for help but did so that her children would have something special to open for the holidays. I was that child who knew that when I grew up, if ever I could pay it forward that I would. And now I get to teach my own daughter that doing for others is a mitzvah (a good deed), not because we’re told to do it but because it can bring as much joy to the giver as it does the recipient.

As the holidays approach, there will be plenty of opportunities to be help. Give with no expectation of getting. Give with no strings attached. Give with loving kindness. And if you’re not in a position to give, then receive with loving kindness. Allow others to do for you.

What will you do to repair the world?

This post is linked  at Robin’s Mingle Monday on her site, Add A Pinch. There are many others who are linked up, so check out what others are saying this fine Monday.



Robyn October 25, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I LOVE this!!! What a wonderful idea to help others and teach our children the importance of action.

Thanks so much for sharing this on this week’s Mingle Monday!

Kate @ Songs Kate Sang October 25, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Sara, This is really beautiful. I love it. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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