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Home » General, Judaica » About Tzedakah Boxes

About Tzedakah Boxes

Written by Zev on May 1, 2009 – 12:31 am -

Tzedakah Box

A long running tradition celebrated in Judaism is the practice of Tzedakah. A literal translation of the word Tzedakah to English is “righteousness” yet for most Jewish people it is equivalent to “charity”.

Jewish people often give Tzedakah as a way to thank God, for example, after a loved has recovered from illness, survived an accident or simply to celebrate a happy occasion such as a birth in the family or a marriage. This act of giving is one of the greatest “mitzvahs” that can be performed in the Jewish faith.

The normal practice is to place any coins or low denomination notes into what was known in Jewish circles as a “pushke”. Initially pushkes were hand- made and fairly basic.

While pushkes have been part of the scenery in Jewish homes for thousands of years, the concept of Tzedakah gained special significance during the early twentieth century, and especially after the Second World War, with the foundation of the Jewish State in Eretz Israel. The various organizations and charities that were established to help the infant state get on its feet, put great effort in placing Tzedakah boxes in every home, as well as every site where Jewish people congregated so that they could contribute whatever they could to the fledgling state.

The Jewish National Fund produced tens of thousands of simple metal tins to gather contributions. These tins, painted in the bright colors of the Israeli flag and resplendent with the Star of David were distributed by a team of volunteers. The volunteers wasted little time and spared no effort in gathering contributions, sometimes on a daily basis. The collections from these  modern Tzedakah boxes, especially in North and South America, as well as the UK and Australia played, a significant part in helping the state survive in the early days of her foundation.

It is apt that it is written in the Torah that the first Tzedakah was used to gather donations to renovate the First Temple in Jerusalem which had fallen into a state of advanced disrepair. Donations were gathered in a large wooden chest with a hole bored through the top. This simple wooden chest was the forerunner of the Tzedakah box and it is apt that the foundation of the modern State of Israel was aided and assisted by the same principal of giving.

In the 21st century, there are many Jewish people who have the means to donate to charities and in considerable amounts. In the age in which we live, these sums are donated by grants to specific charities and authorities who in turn distribute the contributions to help the needy and infirm. This means of giving is less hands on, and might even be regarded as in-personal. For this reason, most people have a Tzedakah box of some sort in their home.

Tzedakah boxes have now become examples of modern and ancient art with the finest of coppersmiths, silversmiths or even wood or stone carvers producing exquisite designs and craftsmanship that are given pride of place in the family home.

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