July 13, 2024

The Charitable Influence of Jewish Diaspora

Volunteers at Pantry Packers

Diaspora – pronounced die-ah-spore-ah – comes from an ancient Greek word meaning “to scatter” or “to spread.” It is commonly used to refer to a group of people who have been forced or willingly left their homeland and now reside in various parts of the world.

The concept of diaspora has evolved throughout history, but it is most commonly associated with the Jewish people and their dispersion from Israel. This long and tumultuous journey began millennia ago yet remains grossly underappreciated to this day. Learn more about the diaspora and how it has shaped giving in this article.

The History of the Jewish Diaspora

Being a faith as old as time itself, Judaism has roots in many parts of the world. Its history begins 4,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia, where Abraham and Sarah first received God’s promise of a great nation. This promise was fulfilled when their descendants became the Israelites, who were led out of Egypt by Moses and settled in Canaan, their promised land.

For centuries, the Israelites lived in this land and developed their unique culture and religion. However, they were unable to maintain independence from foreign rule for long periods of time. This led to several exiles and dispersions throughout history.

The first major diaspora of the Jews occurred in 586 BCE when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and exiled many Israelites to Babylonia. This event, known as the Babylonian Captivity, lasted decades until King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple.

In 63 BCE, the Roman Empire took control of Judea, leading to a series of rebellions and revolts by the Jews against Roman rule. The most famous of these was the Great Revolt from 66-73 CE, which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple.

After this, many Jews were scattered throughout Europe and beyond due to persecution and forced exile. They formed thriving communities in places such as Spain, Italy, and Poland.

In the 19th century, a movement known as Zionism emerged among Jews who desired to return to their ancestral homeland and establish a Jewish state. This led to increased migration of Jews back to Palestine, which was then under Ottoman rule.

The most significant diaspora in recent history took place during World War II and the Holocaust. Millions of Jews were systematically murdered by the Nazis in Europe, leading to the decimation of Jewish communities and a sharp decline in their population worldwide.

In 1948, following the end of World War II and increasing support for a Jewish state from world leaders, Israel declared its independence as a nation. It now stands as a majority Jewish nation and a symbol of hope and resilience for the Jewish people.

How Jewish Philanthropy and the Jewish Diaspora are Intertwined

As can be seen, diaspora is a defining element of Jewish history. Our people have faced a multitude of struggles over the centuries, from exile and persecution to displacement and genocide. Despite all of these challenges, the Jewish community has remained resilient and steadfast in its faith, culture, and traditions. In many ways, the diaspora shapes and informs our identity as a people.

The concept of philanthropy, or giving back to others in need, is deeply rooted in traditional Jewish values that date back as far as 2000 BCE. In the Torah, there are numerous references to the concept of Tzedakah, which is considered a fundamental obligation and act of righteousness in Judaism. This focus on giving back extends beyond just donating to Israeli charities that support the poor – it also comprises other acts within the Eight Degrees of Giving such as loving-kindness, volunteer work, and advocacy for social justice.

Colel Chabad’s Role In Enriching the Jewish Diaspora

As the oldest Jewish charity in Israel, Colel Chabad has an extensive history of promoting the Chabad movement’s philosophies and teachings both across the nation and around the world. Jewish philanthropists and prominent rebbes alike have played a significant role in shaping our organization into the influential and impactful entity it is today.

Colel Chabad isn’t just an Israeli charity that fights hunger – we’re also a charity that supports widows, a charity dedicated to community healthcare, a charity for orphaned children and children’s education. You can contribute in a number of ways, and even start your very own fundraising campaign to support one of our many initiatives.

The Best Jewish Charity to Give to This Year

Colel Chabad proudly enriches the Jewish diaspora through its extensive social service programs day in and day out. The impact our philanthropic endeavors make is thanks to both the transformative power of Chesed and those who get involved to support our cause.

If you’ve been searching for the best Jewish charities to donate to, there’s no better place to start than here. Colel Chabad’s online donation program makes practicing Jewish philanthropy easy and hassle-free. By committing today, you’ll be helping us continue to provide essential services and support to those in need.


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