July 24, 2024

Why Anonymous Giving Is the Most Meaningful Kind in Jewish Philanthropy

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For some people, simply donating to a good Jewish charity and knowing they’ve made an impact through giving is enough. Others want to be the ones to deliver their contributions to recipients. All acts of altruism and amounts of tzedakah are valuable in either case. Those who want to fully embrace the meaning of tzedek, however, should consider giving anonymously. In this article, we discuss the reasoning behind anonymity in Jewish charity tradition and explain how it’s one of the most powerful ways to embrace our shared value of communal responsibility.

Why Not All Giving Is Made Equal

Growing up, we’re all taught the difference between good and bad. Jewish beliefs focus on recognizing the good in everyone and likewise emanating meaningful compassion to others.

But there’s a scale for this impact, two Jewish philanthropists could donate to a charity for the poor or a charity for orphans and each have completely different intentions. The person with purely intrinsic motivations to help others without recognition would be considered to have achieved a higher level of tzedakah. This aligns with Maimonides’ teachings on the Eight Degrees of Giving, where anonymous charity ranks highly.

Anonymous Giving Is a Time-Old Concept

The concept of anonymous giving in Jewish tradition dates back to ancient times, with references found in the Talmud and other sacred texts. This practice, known as “matan b’seter” (giving in secret), is considered the highest form of charity. It protects the dignity of both the giver and the recipient, ensuring that the act of giving remains pure and untainted by ego or social pressure.

Giving Anonymously in Accordance With Jewish Values

Charity is worthwhile even without tangible rewards. One can reap psychological benefits by giving while creating positive effects for others. Individuals within local synagogues and family networks all do better when they look out for one another – that’s how the Jewish diaspora has lasted for so long. Peace in our homes and greater communities starts within our hearts. 

Anonymous giving reflects an internal desire to perform avodah (work and service) in honor of Jews’ shared high value of community. It also honors the Jewish value of performing mitzvot (good deeds) for the sake of human dignity, the sanctity of human life, and to save others’ souls.

How Jewish Tradition Promotes Giving

Whether it’s on a charitable holiday like Passover or regular Tuesday, religious law encourages us to practice compassionate giving throughout the Jewish calendar year. Engaging in philanthropic charity (tzedakah) is among the most powerful ways one can build the world with kindness today while serving the long-term goal of repairing the world tomorrow. And countless Jewish traditions facilitate this.

Pe’ah (corners), for instance, is modernly practiced by donating to nonprofits against food insecurity. It’s inspired by a charity tradition from hundreds of years back in Jewish history in which farmers would leave a portion of their fields uncropped to feed and protect the poor from hunger. 

Tithing (ma’aser kesafim) involves a similar commitment to apportioning a tenth of one’s income for donation to worthy causes like community healthcare projects, organizations for children’s education, and groups for widows.

There’s also bikur cholim (visiting the sick), maos chitim (money for wheat), hachnasat orchim (hospitality to strangers), mesirus nefesh (giving over the soul), as well as other beautiful rituals, prayers and blessings intended to support others with anavah (humility)

Colel Chabad: Facilitating and Honoring Anonymity in Jewish Charity

Founded in 1788 by the noteworthy Chabad rebbes and religious leaders of the Chabad movement, Colel Chabad is among Israel’s longest-running Jewish charities. Our organization has a storied track record of doing good and supporting those in need across Israel. We take pride in our ability to adapt to changing times while staying true to our core values of united compassion, dignity, and justice (tzedek) for all.

Bar/Bat Mitzvahs for Orphans

Colel Chabad’s Bar/Bat Mitzvahs for orphans give young boys and girls the opportunity to celebrate this important milestone in their lives. Anonymous contributors help make every joyous ceremony a reality.

Widows Groups

Our Widows Groups offer crucial support to women who have lost a spouse. We provide charitable compassion in the form of financial assistance, emotional counseling, and practical help to ensure vulnerable families can maintain stability and hope during difficult times.

Pantry Packers

The anonymous faces behind Pantry Packers are why countless Jewish families have enough food on their tables each day. Volunteers pack and distribute food packages to families in need across Israel in what is currently one of the country’s largest nutrition security initiatives.

Interest-Free Loans

Donations to Colel Chabad facilitate Interest-free loans for individuals and families facing financial hardship. This program promotes acts of loving-kindness while maintaining the anonymity of both lender and borrower.

Give Anonymously Today                               

To give without the expectation of receiving something in return is to give for the right reason. And giving through Colel Chabad is the best way to make sure your donation makes a difference. Our philanthropic community efficiently disperses charity funds across Israel

Contributions during crises like the one going on today are needed and appreciated. You can also get involved by signing up to volunteer, serving as the face of male and female philanthropists who give anonymously via online donation platforms. Take action today.


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בַּעֲבוּר שֶׁבְּלִי נֶדֶר אֶתֵּן צְדָקָה