As a longtime fundraiser for many wonderful causes, I have learned so much from many of my mentors about the importance of cultivating our donors’ capacity for meaningful generosity. At the same time, fundraising begins in our own homes. As many of us learned as children, we find causes worthy of our hard-earned dollars to support and have felt the good feelings when giving tzedakah. It opens our hearts to kindness and compassion. We appreciate and are inspired by the depth of other people’s spirit of giving and we learn by example for ourselves the importance of giving gifts to make the world a better place.
If we are lucky, we learned from our parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents. When I look around the campuses of Jewish Senior Life, I see so many family names of our generous donors over the past 116 years who cared and continue to care so deeply. And every time I sign a thank you letter, I think about the donors and how they live their lives. I am filled with gratitude and always inspired.
We at JSL are deeply grateful to all the people who support our residents, programs, and services. I hope that generosity of your time, talent, and treasure grants joy to the giver as much as it does the receiver. Rabbi Rachel Cowan once wrote, “Generosity is a way of being, of sharing kindness, respect, patience, nonjudgmental acceptance, and openheartedness. When we give consciously, we open ourselves to the pleasure of giving. Even when we give simply because it is what is obligated, we have created the possibility of a closer relationship with the recipient.”
Jewish tradition recognizes three different qualities of generosity: the first is tzedakah, commanded by the core value of justice. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/tzedakah-101/
The second is t’rumah- free-flowing spontaneous giving from the heart. https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/trumah
And the third is g’milut chasadim, acts of loving kindness that benefit others. https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/111262/jewish/Gemilut-Chassadim-Loving-Kindness.htma
Maimonides wrote of the relationship between the donor and recipient and created a hierarchy of eight levels of giving: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/maimonides-ladder-of-tzedakah/
Giving willingly and with a smile, but less than you could/should have given.
Waiting to be asked before giving.
Making the gift before it was requested.
Giving to an unknown recipient but knowing that the recipient will know who the donor is.
Giving to a known recipient anonymously.
Giving anonymously to an unknown recipient.
Giving a gift that enables the recipient to become self-sustaining.
Sometimes people respond to circumstances with generosity that exceeds their usual levels – perhaps in response to a disaster, or to an inspiring leader, or for an opportunity to build something they believe in. Our campaign to renovate the rooms and shared spaces of Fleischman Residence Blumberg Plaza Assisted Living is just such an occasion. The importance of modernizing our 42-year-old building to provide this fragile population with the enhancements and upgrades they deserve continues our 116-year-old JSL mission – “We nurture a sense of community and enrich the lives of older adults, while embracing Jewish values and celebrating life.” And our vision – Jewish Senior Life of Metropolitan Detroit is the provider of choice for outstanding residences and compassionate services that enable older adults to live healthy, joyous, and purposeful lives.”
We cherish all the volunteers who spend time on our campus in acts of loving kindness. Recently three talented quilters came to Hechtman with their gorgeous creations. Residents viewed the beautifully constructed heirlooms by master quilters, Lynn Aleman, Marilyn Kaczander and Joyce Kaczander. Lynn Aleman said, “We wanted to share our passion for quilting with the residents. Seniors and their stories are so important, and quilts tell amazing stories. We wanted to be part of the JSL community and support them to get everyone involved.
I say, this is “G’emilut Chassadim” in action.
Please send us your photos of time spent with family and friends in your Sukkahs and enjoy this beautiful season of the harvest.