July 18, 2024

The Connection Between Jewish Holidays and Charity

Lit Candles in Various Colors

Jewish holidays are complementary to the year-long deed of charity – a lifestyle of giving we all embrace as a way to honor our faith. In this blog, we will explore the traditions of giving during Jewish holidays and show you how you can get involved in spreading love and kindness to those in need.

The Jewish Tradition of Giving

In Jewish tradition, the concepts of tzedakah and chesed are deeply ingrained in our beliefs and way of living. Tzedakah, which translates to “charity” or “justice,” refers to the act of giving money or resources to those in need. Chesed, on the other hand, encompasses acts of loving-kindness beyond just monetary donations.

Both tzedakah and chesed are considered mitzvot (commandments) in Judaism and are seen as integral parts of fulfilling our role as Jews. In fact, the Talmud states that tzedakah is equal to all other commandments combined.

The purpose of tzedakah and philanthropy is more than helping those who are less fortunate. While that is certainly a significant aspect, there is a deeper meaning behind these acts of giving. Tzedakah and chesed are seen as ways to fulfill our ethical obligations towards others, promoting social justice and equality within our communities.

Not All Forms of Jewish Charity Are Monetary

Charitable giving doesn’t have to be tangible to make an impact; The Eight Degrees of Giving lay out several levels of philanthropy one can engage in as a way to fulfill obligations.

For example, it’s commendable to support organizations for the poor, donate to charities that assist widows, and give money to non-profit initiatives against hunger. But that isn’t the only nature of help people need. You can make just as much of a difference by signing up to volunteer for a local children’s education program, offering to mow the lawn for your neighbor who is unable to do so themselves, or even just lending an ear to someone in need of emotional support.

Jewish Holidays and Their Giving Traditions

Holiday giving is a special opportunity for Jews to go above and beyond in their pursuit of tikkun olam. We see each and every day as a chance to give back, but the impact is particularly meaningful during times when the community comes together to celebrate and reinforce core Jewish values.

Passover Giving Traditions

During Passover, it is customary for Jews to not only donate money but also food and clothing items for Seder meals. This tradition, known as Maot Chitim (literally meaning “wheat money”), originates from the ancient practice of collecting wheat to help provide food for impoverished families during the holiday. Today, this tradition has evolved to include donations of all types of food and necessities for those in need.

Hanukkah Giving Traditions

In keeping with the holiday’s theme of shared prosperity, many Jews practice tzedakah during Hanukkah. It can take a variety of forms, from donating to charities that invest in community healthcare to giving money directly to those in need. Some families also choose to donate a portion of their Hanukkah gift budget to a charitable cause.

Purim Giving Traditions

Giving during Purim is driven by four mitzvahs (good deeds) that are associated with the holiday: giving gifts of food or drink (mishloach manot), donating money to those in need (these are known as matanot l’evyonim, or gifts for the poor), reading the Megillah (the story of Purim), and enjoying a festive meal (seudat Purim).

Rosh Hashanah Giving Traditions

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a time for reflection and renewal. It is also a time for giving back to the community through acts of loving-kindness. Synagogues serve key roles in community charity initiatives during Rosh Hashanah and other important Jewish holidays by holding food drives, organizing volunteer opportunities, and collecting donations for various charities.

Yom Kippur Giving Traditions

On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Jews fast for 24 hours as a form of spiritual cleansing. It is also highly encouraged to donate to Israeli charities that fight food insecurity and similar causes. Doing so serves as a reminder of the fact that while we may be going without food for one day, there are many people in the world who go without food every day.

How Colel Chabad Gives Back During Jewish Holidays

Few Jewish non-profit charity organizations do as much as Colel Chabad does for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Hanukkah. As Israel’s longest-running charity organization, we feel a strong sense of responsibility to give back and help those in need during these special times.

Our seasonal programs include:

Food Drives

The Pantry Packers program operates throughout the year, but its work is put into overdrive during Jewish holidays. It’s our goal to ensure all Israeli families have a well-stocked pantry as they celebrate Jewish traditions like Purim feasts.

Holiday Hospital Packages

Colel Chabad makes Hanukkah more enjoyable for hospitalized children by distributing special holiday packages and gifts.

Summer Camp Scholarships

For many families in Israel, sending their children to summer camp is financially out of reach. Colel Chabad offers scholarships so that these children can enjoy the same experiences as their peers.

Home Visits

Our volunteers make visits to elderly individuals who may not have family nearby to celebrate the holidays with. We bring them special holiday meals and gifts, making sure they feel loved and cared for during these important times.

Make Jewish Charity an Everyday Practice With Colel Chabad

Throughout its over 200 years in operation, Colel Chabad has been a driving force of aid to Israel. While most long-standing Jewish non-profits focus on one area of need – charities for orphans and organizations for children’s education, for example – our group addresses virtually every issue impacting the community head-on. Donations are sent to a variety of worthy causes, from healthcare to food insecurity. This is a year-long commitment that doesn’t stop at the end of Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur.

Chabad leaders throughout Jewish history have always emphasized the importance of charity and giving back to the community. This value is deeply ingrained alongside other Chabad teachings at Colel Chabad, making us the best place to donate during Jewish holidays – and every other time of year, for that matter. 

With so many different programs and initiatives, there is always a way to get involved with what we do. You can get started today by signing up for online donations, volunteering your time and skills, or hosting a fundraiser. Don’t wait for the next Jewish holiday to roll around – take action now and make a difference with Colel Chabad. 


Yizkor Donation

בַּעֲבוּר שֶׁבְּלִי נֶדֶר אֶתֵּן צְדָקָה