Ways of Giving
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Ways of Giving

grades:  High School (9-12) 

Lesson Summary:

Introduce students to the topics of tzedakah (charity) and gemilut chesed (acts of lovingkindness) through three short historical texts. Then, consider the different ways in which students may choose to give back to their communities through philanthropy or community service.

Enduring Understandings:

1. Judaism has both textual and historical foundation for making the world better through giving both money and time to others.
2. Judaism provides two distinct frameworks for Jews to help and support others--tzedakah and gemilut chesed (loving kindness).
3. In Judaism, giving is most like a communal obligation or tax, rather than something that is done out of pity for others.
4. Jewish organizations and individuals approach service and philanthropy differently, and have different goals in mind.

Essential Questions:

1. How has past Jewish involvement in tzedakah and service shaped the way we approach philanthropy and service work today?
2. What are the different ways that one can contribute to one s community?
3. Why is giving to others an important value?
4. What are the differences, if any, between tzedakah and gemilut chesed (loving kindness)?

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Materials and resourcesmore


(texts available via link in procedure section below)

  • printed versions of all women s speeches and the traditional Jewish texts included
  • Costumes for actors/volunteers playing Rebecca Gratz, Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, and a Representative of Chicago s South Side Ladies Sewing Society


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Music Connectionsmore

Evidence of Learningmore

• Participants will be able to identify multiple ways for individuals to give back to or support their communities.
• Participants will be able to relate Jewish traditions around charity and service to their experiences as Jews today.


Lesson Contributors

The Jewish Women’s Archive is a national public history organization dedicated to telling the stories of Jewish women and inspiring change and inclusivity in communities everywhere. The collections and encyclopedia on jwa.org invite learners of all ages to connect with role models from history and today. Nearly 100 lesson plans for kids, families, and adults help Jewish educators weave stories about identity and activism into programs about Jewish values, holidays, and ritual. And, JWA’s professional development programs and trainings encourage educators to connect with one another to create new ways of engaging the communities they serve. As we say at JWA, “You cannot be what you cannot see,” so check us out anytime, anywhere, at jwa.org.