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Why Tzedakah on the High Holidays?

by Rabbi Aaron Lerner, president & CEO

As we enter the High Holiday season, Jewish wisdom offers a prescription of teshuvah (repentance), tefillah (prayer), and tzedakah (money to help others) to assist us as we attempt to wipe away our transgressions and seek a better future.

The inclusion of repentance and prayer seem obvious as they prompt us to examine our actions, seek forgiveness, and commit to positive change. Tzedakah, however, may feel less apparent. What does giving money away have to do with the more ethereal considerations of the High Holiday season? 

In Jewish thought, tzedakah is more than just charitable giving; it embodies justice and righteousness (both of which share tzedakah’s Hebrew root, tzedek). So perhaps its inclusion underscores the High Holidays' theme of caring for the world beyond just ourselves. By engaging in tzedakah during this sacred time, individuals not only show compassion but also actively contribute to the restoration and betterment of their communities and the world at large.

Or, perhaps, it’s playing on internal versus external transformation. We engage in repentance and prayer primarily within ourselves. Tzedakah, however, serves as an external embodiment of our values. Giving plainly demonstrates our commitment to care for the vulnerable, support education, promote justice, and so many other Jewish values.  

As such, we learn that repentance and prayer are incomplete without tangible acts of giving. Tzedakah becomes an essential ingredient of spiritual and personal growth. Which may help us understand why even a poor person is instructed to give tzedakah. The act of giving, at whatever level, changes us in ways that nothing else can. 

As we enter the New Year, I encourage us to embrace the full triad of repentance, prayer, and giving. We go higher in our own spirituality when we help others rise as well! L’Shanah tovah, and may the New Year bring hope, good health, and happiness to you and your family.

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  1. Save on capital gains taxes
  2. Receive a potential tax deduction for the fair market value of your stock
  3. Make more of an impact with the additional resources in your Donor Advised Fund!

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Click here to learn more about donating stock and consult with your financial or tax advisor. 

Questions? Contact us today at 323.761.8704 or by email. We are happy to assist you!


The Foundation Awards $2 Million to Eight Local Jewish Nonprofits for Capacity-Building

From L to R: Sharsheret, Shalom Institute, Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center

The Foundation recently awarded a total of $2 million to eight Jewish organizations that serve the Los Angeles community. The funding comes through The Foundation’s Next Stage Grants initiative, a capacity-building program designed to support a dynamic and thriving Los Angeles Jewish community by bolstering the internal operations of its nonprofits.

The awarded nonprofits are:

These grants of up to $300,000 over three years are for investments in infrastructure, staffing and technology to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of the recipient organizations.


High Holiday Grants Provide Meals to

Israelis in Need

During this High Holiday season, we continue our tradition of supporting Israelis in need. The Foundation recently awarded grants to Latet, Leket Israel, and Yad Ezra V’Shulamit. Each provides meals, support, and a little added sweetness to those in Israel celebrating the holidays. The grants were made in memory of our beloved colleague, Fay Althausen, z"l, who passed away from cancer in 2018.

Thank you, LA Jewish Leaders!

We recently published the below ad in the Jewish Journal to thank our community of philanthropic leaders who strengthen Jewish Los Angeles and beyond.


Maui Wildfires: How To Help

In the aftermath of the devastating Maui wildfires, which have killed more than 100 people and wiped out the historic city of Lahaina, The Foundation awarded two grants to support relief and recovery efforts on the island. One went to Jewish Federation of North America’s Hawaii Wildfire Fund, which will direct donations to local Jewish institutions, and the other went to Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund, which will direct donations to broader relief efforts. 


If you feel inclined to help those on Maui in need, please see our recommendations below, and read "How to Give More Impactfully After A Disaster" by The Foundation's Program Officer Charlotte Friedman for further guidance on giving post-disaster.



  1. Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) launched a Hawaii Wildfire Fund to support urgent aid in the form of toiletries, first-aid kits, non-perishable foods, and baby supplies for those affected by the fires. This fund will be targeted to Jewish institutions such as the Jewish Congregation of Maui, the Maui Jewish Farm, the local Chabad, and Jewish Community Services of Hawaii.




  1. Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF) launched a Maui Strong Fund to support shelter, food, financial assistance, and other services for communities impacted by the fires. This fund will be directed to a range of organizations on the ground such as Aloha Diaper Bank, American Red Cross, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaii, Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center, Maui Food Bank, and The Salvation Army.
  2. United Way of Maui launched a Maui Fire Disaster Relief Fund to support local nonprofit agencies that are providing direct services to families affected by the fires. 
  3. Amalgamated Charitable Foundation, in partnership with Organizing Resilience, set up the Maui Community Power Recovery Fund to support immediate relief efforts to house, feed, and support displaced families and resource the long-term efforts to rebuild and advance structural change. This fund will be directed to a range of grassroots organizations such as Maui Mutual Aid, Our Hawaii, Funder Hui, and Hawaii’s People Fund.
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