Inspiration from home
A young Israeli-American entrepreneur has invented an app that people – of any age – can use to find a hookup. No, it’s not for romantic hookups, although it does involve love, in a sense. Deevee Kashi invented Deed, an app that allows people to hook up with one-off volunteer gigs, whether serving food at a soup kitchen, walking shelter dogs or providing social interaction for seniors.
The idea may be perfect for our time. The contemporary generation is plugged-in, highly scheduled and perpetually busy, but also deeply committed to making positive impacts on the world. Deed may be just the thing for someone with an unexpected hour or two on their hands to do something more than downing a mocha while waiting for their next meetup.
We’d like to think it is not a coincidence that the app was invented by a Jew. Tzedakah, as Rabbi Joseph Telushkin reminds us, is an obligation and an act of justice. Conversely, to refrain from tzedakah is an act of injustice.
As we spend time in reflection over the holidays, it would be good and rejuvenating to balance the news of natural and human-made disasters with the antidote of tzedakah we see in abundance around us. The Deed app is a high-tech example, but closer to home we have an uplifting richness of good deeds that should make us proud of our community.
This week, the community came together to officially launch the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver’s annual campaign. No single act of tzedakah does more than the annual gift that goes to support almost every philanthropic endeavour in this community. This is, rightly, a high-profile campaign, one that you will continue to read about in these pages as the campaign continues. (Interviews with the speakers at Wednesday night’s FEDtalks event are available at jewishindependent.ca.)
There are plenty of other good deeds taking place rather more quietly all year round.
In the past year, at least three synagogues – Temple Sholom, Or Shalom and Congregation Emanu-El – have sponsored Syrian refugees, and others are contemplating doing so or are in the process of making it happen. Such an act is a long-term commitment and a life-changing one not only for the refugees, but for all those whose lives are touched by the experience, and as true a demonstration of justice in action as we could hope to see.
Ensuring that the model of goodness is carried on l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation, is Marc’s Mensches, a new initiative by the Bayit that helps encourage young people in the Jewish community by rewarding them for good deeds. It is a wonderful venture, with nominations reportedly pouring in, which is no surprise, as we have seen some of the most innovative and ambitious tzedakah initiatives emerge from the youngest among us. Our community’s Jewish schools and, of course, parents, are doing a superb job of instilling this core Jewish value in successive generations.
The Independent is undertaking a fresh approach to recognize the power of tzedakah among younger generations through our “18 Under 36” celebration, which will coincide with the 18th anniversary of the current leadership of this almost-90-year-old newspaper. Nominations are open for people under 36 – who are Jewish or doing great things for the Jewish community – to be recognized at this very special event Dec. 6. Please consider nominating someone, then join us for the celebration!
Appropriately, volunteers of all ages have been acknowledged and appreciated recently by the Jewish Family Service Agency, Jewish Seniors Alliance and other organizations. There are few good things in our community that are not dependent on the golden touch of armies of volunteers.
The danger in enumerating a few of these great acts is that we miss countless more … so please be aware that those we have mentioned are truly the tip of an iceberg of tzedakah and this is more reason for great pride. After the holidays, we will return to the quotidian news that can bring down even the most optimistic among us, but let’s try to keep close in our hearts some of these acts of tzedakah and let us be inspired in the new year to add to them.