Shalom, Dear Friends,

As the secular calendar year draws to a close, many of us turn our attention to year-end tzedaka contributions. Deciding amongst multiple worthy tzedaka recipients/ recipient organizations is a holy and difficult task. Here at the synagogue, one of my responsibilities is administering our synagogue’s Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund, a fund that receives contributions throughout the year for a myriad of reasons.

The Fund is dedicated to meeting needs, local and worldwide, Jewish and general, where we can make a true difference. When possible, we prefer to make gifts that fund particular needs – rather than more general support. However, “overhead” funding is also crucial to helping organizations do their work. We also use the fund to support special projects within the JCCH that are not provided for in the general congregational budget, a “venture” programming fund, perhaps. Finally, the fund is used in true emergencies, providing urgent and immediate assistance.

These are all general statements. But perhaps you would be interested in knowing what has the fund actually supported over the last number of months? Some of our recent contributions include:

  • The special and expanded Kiddush lunch on our Soliditary Shabbat
  • Jewish Educational supplies for Chanukah sent to the Masorti congregation in Odessa, Ukraine
  • The purchase of seven Sukkot (Sukkahs) for members of the congregation, families who built Sukkot for the first time
  • Introduction to Hebrew reading books for first-time Hebrew readers
  • The Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center
  • A local cancer research organization and several other healthcare organizations
  • The Shabbat Pastoral Care program at White Plains Hospital
  • Gifts of Shofarot for some of our younger congregants, hoping to inspire them to take up the mitzvah of shofar blowing in a significant way
  • JCCH-branded beach towels for all of our synagogue youth going to Jewish summer camps
  • UJA Federation of New York (general support) and the UJA Community Initiative for Holocaust Survivors
  • The American Jewish Committee (AJC)
  • Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF)
  • An honorarium to a guest speaker at JCCH, Reshad Ahmadi
  • Partial support for a JCCH teen’s educational trip to Israel
  • Mercaz USA, the Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement
  • A family connected to a JCCH family facing a deportation issue
  • Gifts to newcomers to our community, challah and kosher wine. One family got a snow shovel – welcome to the suburbs!
  • Famine relief in Uganda
  • Several room decorations and costumes to enhance Friday Night Live and Purim events at JCCH
  • Camp Ramah
  • The Harrison Public Library and the Harrison Holiday Project
  • Our annual dinner in the synagogue Sukkah
  • Hurricane relief in Texas
  • Some simple exercise equipment for the Harrison Volunteer Fire Department
  • Shabbat wine for those hosting Guess Who is Coming to Shabbat dinner
  • Aprons for community Challah baking activities
  • Mazon: The Jewish Response to Hunger
  • “Mitzvah Projects” for many of our Bar and Bat Mitzvah kids.
  • The Jewish Theological Seminary
  • Women of the Wall (organization working for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel)
  • The Foodbank for Westchester and the Harrison Food Pantry
  • Hillels of Westchester
  • The Westchester Jewish Council
  • Gifts to local families in need

We welcome suggestions throughout the year. It goes without saying that all requests are given serious consideration.

Related to this, in recent weeks, several members of the congregation have shared with me their desires that their children (young children and adult children) feel more closely connected to the parents’ priorities in general and Judaism, more specifically. I suggested that year-end Tzedakah giving be a multi-generational discussion and decision. How nice to sit around the kitchen table and review family interests and priorties; what a beautiful way to involve the next generation in perpetuating your values. Please let me know how I can be of assistance as you plan these discussions.

On behalf of my family, please accept our good wishes for a happy, light-filled and generous Chanukah season and end of the calendar year.