Insight into Jewish Caregiving

Last week, I was asked to be on a call with a consultant hired by a government agency which partners with AJFCA. The agency hired the consultant to research the approaches to caregiving taken by various faith communities based on their traditions. I was thrilled to represent the Jewish community in a discussion on caring for others.

As I prepared for the call, I thought first and foremost about the sense of community and inclusivity that is a quintessential element of the Jewish community. It is our tradition to reach out to those on the periphery and pull them in close to the heart of the community where they will draw strength. It is clear to those involved in the Jewish community that we are collectively tested by the community’s challenges and we are collectively stronger when connected with one another.

My thoughts then quickly turned to the tenets of Judaism that are cited by nearly all of AJFCA’s member agencies as foundational to their work—tzedakah and tikkun olam. The concept of tzedakah is not merely to be giving or charitable, but by doing so, to seek justice, because in a just world, all of society’s members have what they need. And who should be the beneficiary of the tzedakah? The concept of tikkun olam answers that question. This is a commandment to “repair the world”—not the Jewish world, not the American world, the world. Whoever needs it. Looking deeper, though, it is important to understand that it’s not just the people who receive care that benefit. Because the mandate of tzedakah and tikkun olam are so central to the lives of Jewish people, we understand that by fulfilling these commandments, by taking care of those who need some extra help, the helper benefits equally and alongside the recipient.

It was an honor to discuss the Jewish principles that underpin the work of AJFCA’s member agencies in caring for seniors, the disability community and other communities who need the care that our Jewish traditions guide us to provide.

Comments (1)

  • Herschel Budlow on 06/07/2012 at 11:15 PM said:

    Dear Lisa, Your posting was an excellent and succinct message about the role of the AJFCA in improving the lives of our those in the Jewish community who need and deserve the concern and compassion of all of us. I really look forward to your future contributions. Love, Granpa to the Budlow 5

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