Parashat Pinhas

The Daughters Of Zelophehad And The Divine Right Of Ownership

Just as God advocated for the property rights of Zelophehad's daughters, we should work to create economic opportunities for those who have lacked them.

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The daughters of Zelophehad needed divine intervention to become property owners. Today, we have an obligation to act in the image of God to help the economically disadvantaged open the doors to economic opportunity.

One of the best ways to do this is by investing our resources in community development financial institutions, or CDFI's. CDFI's are banks, credit unions and loan funds with the primary mission of educating and providing financial services to under-served people and communities. People with less-than-perfect or no credit are able to borrow money and maintain checking and savings accounts at CDFI's, enabling them to build wealth and stability.

The several hundred CDFI's that exist around the country comprise an alternative financial industry supported by the government, private foundations, religious organizations and individuals that want to literally "lend" a hand.

Jews all over the country are beginning to invest in this way through Tzedec, a national program of The Shefa Fund. Nationally, Jews and Jewish institutions are realizing that investing in CDFI's provides the link that can tie people in poverty to the economic opportunities that have remained inaccessible to them for so long. Tzedec has already organized over $10.5 million for CDFI's by working with Federations, Jewish family foundations, synagogues and individuals.

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Kevin Haworth

Kevin Haworth is the author of The Discontinuity of Small Things, winner of the Samuel Goldberg & Sons Foundation Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers.

Abigail B. Weinberg

Abigail Weinberg, a social and economic justice activist, is the Congregational Liaison for the Midwest Region of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, and a member of the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Havurah in Ann Arbor, Michigan.