Hanukkah Giving…Squared

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You know how Amazon (and its less evil compatriots) cuts off holiday shipping, what, like two weeks before Christmas starts? Suddenly, the “ships within 24 hours!” notification turns into “order in 36 seconds to receive it before Christmas!” At least they warn you about Christmas. In terms of the Hanukkah cut-off, if you don’t know the date in your head (this year, sundown on December 21), you’d better start planning something pretty quick.

(And here the existential question is posed: am I writing all these Hanukkah present-buying posts because I am the world’s most forgetful person, and I’m trying to remind myself? Or because I’m shamelessly trolling for gifts?)

In any case: Last summer, Meredith wrote about the closing of the Ziv Tzedakah Fund and the start of the Good People Fund. And we recently received an email alerting us to the establishment of the Mitzvah Heroes Fund, another group that’s taking on the role of trying to do good things in this world.

So, you know, there’s always the easy route of buying a fruitcake, a book (or, even, the best book ever — which is less than $10, by the way)…or you could give tzedakah, or charity, in people’s honor.

Disclaimer: I don’t recommend doing this for kids. You can’t play with tzedakah, you can’t chew on tzedakah (unless you’re contributing to a soup kitchen or something) and you sure as anything aren’t going to fight space aliens with tzedakah. But, for those of us who are adults (or trying to fake it), it’s a damn good way to fulfill the social obligation of showing how much you care about someone with money — and it’s a damn convenient way, too.

Recently, I heard a rabbi say (and I’m pretty sure there’s a textual basis for this, though I couldn’t tell you what it is) that giving charity in someone else’s merit counts as a mitzvah for them and a mitzvah for you, too. So if you’re really in a credit crunch, there’s a perfect way to buy twice as many gifts for half as much cash. Which, I need to tell you, is way cheaper than buying everyone on your list a Wii. Oh, yeah: and you don’t have to plan it 3 weeks ahead of time.

Posted on December 11, 2008

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