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Inside Tzedakah, from Sh'ma

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Each month Sh’ma offers a deep pluralistic dive into a topic. This issue of Sh’ma focuses a sharp lens on distinguishing the concepts of “philanthropy” and “tzedakah.” Tzedakah, which means righteousness, is generally understood as funds or provisions for the poor. Philanthropy, which comes from the Greek, “Love of humankind,” is understood as voluntary funding for projects not generally associated with need—projects that repair the world. Two essays suggest that we, as Jews, ought to embrace a certain “standard of giving” — similar to that of biblical tithing. The Roundtable conversations explore the explosion over the last decades of innovative programs and services that have drawn new funders into the practice of serious Jewish giving. Specifically, these pieces examine how sustainable and scalable such projects the projects in the innovation sector are. We hope this issue will help to redefine the communal conversation about tzedakah and philanthropy.

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