Nov 20

Continuing a tradition of giving: learning about tzedakah and assembling gifts for OCC

20151110_165028_resized_1Recently we participated in Operation Christmas Child with the help of donations that came from various sources. This marked the 20th year the children have had the opportunity to put together gift boxes for children in various places around the world. We spoke about how this gift might be the first gift some of these children would receive and how we can learn to be grateful with what we have been given, even if we know our lives are far from perfect.

Jewish mentor, Edie Kort, gave a lesson in the Jewish tradition of tzedakah–which means “justice” but refers to the act of charitable giving. The children were able to hear a story about how a little girl named Dahlia was able to get a BIG yellow comforter into a little tzedakah box! Of course, she was simply saving up her money to give to a charity, but it was a fun way to introduce to the children the concept of saving up so you could do good for another. After the story, Jim Nallick, our Jewish Educator, worked the children through an interactive exercise where they had to determine what the best way of giving charity is based on Maimonides’ “Ladder of Tzedakah.” In case you are wondering, the absolute highest form of charity is to get the individual established in business and be self-supporting, which comes from the verse:

“Strengthen [the poor person] so that he does not fall [as distinct from the one who has already become poor] and become dependent on others” (Leviticus 25:35).

Our littlest ones were able to grasp that it was far better to give charity without drawing attention to yourself (“That would be bragging,” said Macie) than to make sure everyone knew how important your act was. Overall, while some of our younger children struggled with the concept of assembling a gift for someone they didn’t know, and not getting a gift themselves, most of the children were really able to get into the spirit of giving. We prayed for the children that would be receiving our gifts, and each child took time to write a note of encouragement and friendship to the young person they assembled a gift for.

Isn’t it great to be reminded that even in the midst of very difficult circumstances, we can learn to be grateful and give to others something that might be an encouragement to them? Our children are an encouragement to me daily, and I hope that we can carry ourselves with the same attitude of selflessness and love that they are learning to express during their time at Intermountain. And, hopefully, in bringing healing through healthy relationships at Intermountain, we are helping children learn to be independent and faithful contributors to their families and communities–the highest form of charity!