June 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Middlesex Group Launches Dollar-a-Day Tzedaka Initiative

As Paul Bloom of Edison recalls, he got his inspiration for the community-wide initiative he’s leading in a shiur he heard in Rechavia, over a year ago.

He was visiting the Nasi shul, aka the Young Israel of Rechavia, on Osishkim Street and heard a talk by Rabbi Eitiel Goldwicht on the exceptional importance of the mitzvah of tzedaka. In the talk, Rabbi Goldwicht praised a daily giving project launched by the Jewish community in White Plains, New York in 2019. Paul thought to himself: “My hometown community could really use such a project.”

Fortunately for Bloom, and for the Jewish communities in East Brunswick, Edison and Highland Park, he had a cadre of good friends with important skills to help transform a good idea into a practical reality.

As board member David Katzenstein of Highland Park, shared: “Paul presented the idea to Robert Kreitman, Jack Atkin and me because we were learning Daf Yomi together (we still learn as a four person group every morning). We each gravitated to things we are comfortable with. Robert handled making the venture tax exempt, Jack has a great deal of experience in community chesed organizations. I mostly offered drafting/rewrites of text being used on the site and being distributed to the shuls and organizations. I also obtained graphic support from my daughter Deena, who made the logo we are using on the site and crafted our poster as well.”

In early July, the new Dollar-a-Day of Raritan Valley (DaDRV) initiative officially launched. The group provided text explaining the aims of the project for the weekly bulletins of all local shuls:

“The Highland Park/Edison/East Brunswick Communities have launched a new grassroots effort designed to enable everyone in the local community and beyond to participate in a daily act of tzedaka. Born out of the isolation imposed by COVID-19, Dollar-a-Day of Raritan Valley will enable everyone to give tzedaka every day which will be collected and distributed to local shuls, yeshivot, mikvaot and more. Dollar-a-Day of Raritan Valley will accept your credit card donations on a monthly or annual basis and will deliver your collective donations to a recipient every day…. send any questions you have to [email protected] or call Paul Bloom at (732) 309-3192.”

Bloom pointed out to The Jewish Link that the three benefits to the initiative are that it makes giving tzedaka very convenient, it enables the giver to never miss a day due to forgetfulness, and each donation benefits a wide range of groups.

The Dollar-a-Day initiative currently lists five schools and eight service organizations on its website as beneficiaries: Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva, Reenas Bais Yaakov, Netivot Montessori, Yeshiva Shaarei Tzion, Highland Park Community Kollel, Chabad House at Rutgers, Tomchei Shabbos of Middlesex County, Bikur Cholim of Raritan Valley, Hatzolah of Raritan Valley, Rutgers Jewish Experience (RJX), NJ NCSY, East Brunswick Mikvah and Highland Park Mikvah.

According to the website, shul rabbis’ discretionary tzedaka funds are eligible to receive funds from the initiative. Other organizations will also be considered.

Rabbi Gedalia Jaffe, rav of Congregation Ahavas Yisrael of Edison, stated in a video on the Dollar-A-Day of Raritan Valley website: “This new project reflects the achdut that is a hallmark of our very special community. It’s a very powerful idea, giving daily, in that it promotes consistency. We know from our mesorah that external actions generate internal feelings, so if we do good things regularly, it affects us and elevates us. One thing about the Hebrew word, natan (to give) is that it’s a palindrome. This teaches that when you give, you are also giving to yourself.”

Rabbi Eliyahu Kaufman, rav of Congregation Ohav Emeth of Highland Park, stated in a video on the website: “[This project] raises the banner of the great mitzvah of tzedaka, which Chazal teach: ‘Give to Him that which really belongs to Him.’ When we give tzedaka, we are giving back to Hashem what he has entrusted to us. As we read in Tehillim (41:2) ‘Fortunate is he who understands the needs of those who struggle; on the day of evils, Hashem will save him.’”

“This is a terrific idea worthy of community-wide support,” said Jack Atkin of Edison, a board member of the initiative. “It enables individuals of all financial means to give tzedaka in a meaningful way that will have far-reaching positive impact on a multitude of worthy community institutions, including our shuls, schools and chesed organizations. I hope that as many people as possible join this initiative so we will have—individually and collectively—the biggest bang for our buck(s).”

“I have already contributed to the organization and am continuing to put money into shul ‘pushkas’ even though I have already given a dollar for the day,” said David Katzenstein, another board member.” It makes me feel good to know I have given tzedaka every day and to organizations I would not always have made sure to give to.”

“We all prioritize the mitzvah of tzedaka and try to give as often as we can,” said board member Robert Kreitman of Edison. “We also give to local charities and to worthy entities far and wide. DaDRV allows us to give tzedaka on a daily basis and to know that 100 percent of the funds raised will benefit local tzedakot.”

For more information on the Dollar a Day of Raritan Valley (DaDRV) initiative, please see their website at: www.dadrv.org

By Harry Glazer

 

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