Every day at preschool is full of Jewish values – treating each other kindly, caring for the earth, being responsible. In February, with Rabbi Weiner’s help, we focused on tzedakah at Tot Shabbat. He shares more with us here:
“The Jewish concept of tzedakah is more than simply charity—a giving out of “the goodness of one’s heart.” Tzedakah is rooted in the concept of tzedek—of justice and righteousness. The lesson is clear: We Jews are obligated to give|to those in need to attain the kind of economic parity that is the foundation of human dignity and the realization of divine vision.”
During that Tot Shabbat, we explained that the tzedakah money we collected would be used to purchase dental items for the homeless women who sleep at our homeless shelter in Seattle. The following week, JRM’s 3 & 4-year-old classes went on a walking field trip to local stores, where the children each selected 2 toothbrushes, 2 dental flosses, and 2 tubes of toothpaste. At the following Tot Shabbat, the children were very proud to tell Rabbi Weiner what they had bought and for whom the dental supplies were purchased.
Rabbi Aaron Meyer, who leads Temple’s Social Justice program, provides insight for parents and teachers into the importance of this lesson at the preschool, tying the dental hygiene items they purchased to the duty to care for one’s body.
“Hillel, an early rabbinic sage, finished teaching a class and took leave of his students. His students asked: ‘Where are you going?’ He answered: ‘To perform a mitzvah: to take a bath in the bathhouse.’ His students said: ‘How is this a mitzvah?’ His answer was in the form of a parable: ‘Statues erected to kings in the theaters and circuses are washed and scrubbed by those in charge of them…how much more should we, who have been created in God’s image and likeness, take care of our bodies.”
“Jews have a responsibility to care for our bodies, from seeking medical treatment to brushing and flossing our teeth. As we recognize divinity in every human being, this obligation also extends to our friends and neighbors. Together we have collected Tzedakah, righteous giving, to purchase needed hygiene supplies for women hosted at Temple’s overnight women’s shelter. With your help, we have enabled these cherished members of our community to perform the same self-care we often take for granted.”
At JRM we strive to include the Jewish values and traditions into the daily fabric of our classrooms. We believe it is crucial to teach our children that how we treat others is important: That even the smallest act of kindness can make a world of difference.