Collection & distribution of tzedakah

Varity of ways that money was collected:

  • Personal milestones, the birth of a child, a boy’s circumcision, and even a funeral, became events where charity could be incorporated
    • Money was usually given on the person’s behalf so that they were represented as a charitable figure
  • In order to bless a marriage, a husband and wife would give money to charity
  • On holidays or during celebratory times, gifts and donations were given to the less fortunate
  • Within the home, families often had one or more pushke – boxes that were designated for putting money in that was usually being raised for a specific reason
    • Weekly, before lighting the Sabbath candles, a family member might put money in the box
  • If a member of the community had the privilege to read a portion of the Torah during the service, they were expected to make some donation to the synagogue based on the significance of the passage

Money was raised to:

  • Provide food and clothing
  • Care for orphans
  • Offer medical aid to the ill
  • Pay for grave diggers and a burial site for anyone who passed away

Even when the community struggled financially, with these arrangements, having a communal mentality that incited people to be charitable, and countless opportunities to give money, problems of the community were addressed. What was important was that even without a formal system for social welfare, Jews were able to organize something that compensated.


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