By Rachel Stern
According to the objective of repairing the world, or Tikkun Olam, we should try and make the world a better and happier place by giving back in any way that we can. This is just what students at the San Diego Jewish Academy did this past Chanukah. Through their fundraising efforts, $7,168 was raised by San Diego Jewish Academy families, faculty members, and donations from the Weisman and Chortek families for the Tamchui project.
The goal of this remarkable project, part of the Michan and Krongold family Tikkun Olam program was to “teach students in depth about tzedakah.” Karin Zell and Jacky Shapiro, who are co-chairs and have children at the school said. Both women felt that students needed to learn more about the concept of charity. As Zell put it: “There are many different ways to give besides for money.” SDJA’s 8th grade students learned about five charitable organizations and how they worked, including: Feeding San Diego, San Diego G’Mach, Ride Above Disability, Bridge for Kids, and Jewish National Fund.
At the start of the school year, individual tzedakah boxes were sent home to each family, and the full boxes were brought back to school around Thanksgiving time. Around Chaunkah time, the school became Tamchui Central. There were posters describing each organization. Everyday each student decided which organization they wanted to work with by placing tokens in five see-through bowls. This took place for a week. Zell explained: “This was a fun and educational way to teach and enhance Tikkun Olam for kids.” The organizations went to SDJA twice; once to explain to the 8th graders how the project would work and another time to give the same information to the lower, middle and high school students.
Throughout the school, kids were heard talking excitedly as to how they could each help out. There truly is always an opportunity to teach children to be selfless and learn how to somehow give back to their community. Zell says: “When you have the opportunity, there is no greater joy. If you can teach your kids this message, then it is a valuable lesson for life.”
The culmination of the program was Friday, January 17, when the charities were presented with checks in support of the organizations.
“Feeding San Diego is honored to have been selected for the Tamchui Project by San Diego Jewish Academy,” said Vince Hall, CEO of Feeding San Diego. “This charitable project is a unique opportunity for students to gain a deeper understanding about community issues and the power they have to create change. We look forward to exposing students to the fact that one in eight people face hunger in San Diego County and that there are various ways they can help us end hunger through food rescue.”
Director of the school Chaim Heller said that this project was a way of showing and teaching the students that Chanukah is not all about material gifts, it is also about giving to others. As Heller put it: “This is an especially powerful project because the students are learning about charities and experiencing the effect, they can have all at the same time.” This is what he wanted his students to come away with and it seemed to have a wonderful and great impact on the students at the school.
For more information about the San Diego Jewish Academy, visit: sdja.com.