Planting the Seeds of Tzedakah

Planting the Seeds of Tzedakah

February 15, 2024

In our fast-paced world, where academic success often takes centre stage, it's essential to remember that education isn't solely about what is learned in the classroom. I feel that it is essential we also teach our students how to be compassionate, empathetic and responsible individuals who understand the importance of giving back to their communities.

When we teach our students about the importance of Tzedakah (charity) and involve them in activities such as the recent UJA Drive for Israel and the Chanukah Toy Drive, we are nurturing a deeper sense of community and leadership. From a young age, in line with our Jewish values, they are learning important Jewish values and giving them ways that they can make the world a better place.

Building a Community

At Bialik, charitable activities like a Chanukah Toy Drive are not just about collecting toys for those in need. They also play a significant role in building a sense of community. When students, teachers and parents come together to support a cause, this creates a powerful bond within our community. Having this shared purpose fosters a spirit of unity, empathy, and solidarity.

When the recent war in Israel broke out, our Bialik community joined together in many ways. We participated in the UJA fundraising drive and saw an overwhelming, generous response from our community. In addition to the many items that families donated, we also raised over $8,000 for the Magen David Toonie Drive on our Tzedakah Thursday. It's these small acts of giving back that make a powerful difference. Our Dollars for David Campaign is another way that our community comes together to show its appreciation for our teachers and staff while supporting Na’amat day cares in Israel.

Nurturing Leadership

Working with students, I have been able to see the way that incorporating charity and volunteer work into their educational programming provides an excellent opportunity to teach leadership skills. Students are given opportunities to actively participate in organizing and running charity events, which helps them in developing crucial leadership skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, communication and time management. They learn that leadership isn't about authority but about service and making a positive impact on others. Our Student Councils and other leadership opportunities instill this in our students.

Teaching students about charity and involving them in acts of Tzedakah also helps cultivate empathy. Each year, we take students in Grade 5 to help pack boxes for the Passover Food Drive. When the students see how many families are in need, by the large number of boxes that need packing, it’s a real learning moment — they realize that giving back to help and support others is important. They learn to see the world from different perspectives and understand the challenges that others face. This empathy naturally leads to a sense of responsibility towards those in need, inspiring them to make a difference.

The Power of Hands-On Experience

Charitable activities offer hands-on experiences that go beyond classroom learning. Students can actively engage with the community, understand the needs of others, and witness the direct impact of their actions. These experiences instil a sense of fulfillment and purpose that academic achievements alone cannot provide. Bialik’s Social Action Squad is a wonderful opportunity for our Grade 2-8 students and their families to have engaging hands-on volunteer experiences together. Last year, my daughter and I participated in the Purim event, partnered with DANI, and it was so meaningful for us to do this together!

Planting Seeds of Lifelong Philanthropy

The lessons learned through charity and volunteer work are often carried into adulthood. Students exposed to these values at a young age are more likely to become lifelong philanthropists, consistently giving back to their communities. This ripple effect has a profound impact on society, creating a culture of generosity and social responsibility.

Giving charity, particularly through the lens of Tzedakah, is normalized at Bialik. By getting involved in initiatives, students know that it is not just about collecting toys or funds. It's about instilling values, building a strong sense of community, and cultivating leadership qualities. It's about fostering empathy and responsibility and inspiring lifelong philanthropy. In doing so, we are not only shaping responsible individuals — our Jewish Mensches — but also nurturing future leaders who understand that leadership is about service, justice, and making the world a better place for everyone.

Lauren Damelin
Vice Principal, Himel East