Judaism mandates that we give tzedakah. It is our tradition to honor special occasions and the memory of loved ones on both the occasion and anniversary of the death. Beth El offers many opportunities to continue the tradition. Learn more about the meaning of tzedakah in Jewish tradition, opportunities for making contributions, and instructions for donating.
First, a little background. The word tzedakah comes from the Hebrew work tzedek, meaning “justice.” Performing deeds of justice is one of Judaism’s most important obligations. The Torah tells us “Tzedek tzedek you shall pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). Many years later, the Talmud taught us “Tzedakah is equal to all the other commandments combined” (Bara Bathra 9b). According to Jewish law, one who doesn’t give is both mean-spirited and acting illegally. Historically, self-governing Jewish communities assessed tzedakah just as the government assessed taxes. With respect to how much to give, the Torah legislates ten percent of earnings every third year (Deuteronomy 26:12) and an additional percentage of income each year (Leviticus 19:9-10). After the destruction of the Temple and the suspension of an annual tithe levied to support the Kohanim and Levi’im, the Talmud again ordered Jews to give at least ten percent of their annual net earnings to tzedakah. The great scholar Maimonides (Rambam) wrote an important treatise on tzedakah, identifying eight levels of charity.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR MAKING CONTRIBUTIONS TO BETH EL
Beth El’s Annual Fund is a yearly endeavor to ensure that the synagogue has the financial resources to support its programming without relying exclusively on revenue from dues. The 2016-2017 Annual Fund drive is under way and the community has raised over $16,000 of our goal of $130,000 . You can contribute to the Annual Fund until May 30, 2017.
Bertha Bergman Library Fund: for the Beth El library, which, contains reference items, children’s books, and other books of Jewish interest. Refurbishing the library is a major project for 2014-2015, so this fund is particularly important.
Building Maintenance Fund: To maintain the Beth El physical plant beyond regular maintenance items. In past years, the fund has paid for new carpeting, painting, and roofing in the Freedman Center as well as repairs in the preschool classrooms and Rabbi Greyber’s office. The Strategic Plan identified a number of needs for repair needs. Our goal is to build up this fund to a higher level.
Cemetery Fund: to maintain and develop Beth El’s cemetery property. Beth El owns the Durham Hebrew Cemetery off Morehead Avenue; we recently purchased additional property there to make sure that the cemetery meets future needs.
Chevra Kadisha: to pay for expenses in connection with deaths within the Beth El community. Click here for more information on our Chevra Kadisha.
Earl and Gladys Siegel Endowment Fund: to ensure Beth El’s financial security in future years by planting the proverbial tree that bears fruit for many decades to come. As our Endowment Fund grows, Beth El will be less reliant on dues and special campaigns to support the rich programming that we envision for our synagogue. Earl (z’l) and Gladys Siegel founded the Endowment Fund in 2000, and it was named in their honor in 2011.
Education and Youth Director’s Discretionary Fund: to be used for Talmud Torah special programs, materials, other school needs, and to support individuals in need of help for school and youth group sponsored programs.
Elaine Perilstein Memorial Fund: to support classes and programs on the topics of “Jewish Women” and “Enhancing Spirituality in Everyday Life”, and to support our Scholar-in-Residence programs. Barbara Ehrlich, author of Miriam’s Kitchen, was our first scholar-in-residence. Reb Mimi Feigelson and Rabbi Brad Artson joined us in subsequent years. Elaine Perilstein (z’l), for whom the fund is named, passed away in 1998. She was a passionate and loving soul with a deep commitment to cultivating the beauty and spirit of Jewish life and to recognition of the equal status for men and women.
Eric Pas Jewish Camp Scholarship Fund: to enable Jewish youth with financial need and whose families are Beth El members to attend Jewish summer camps. Michele Pas founded the fund in 1998 in memory of her husband Eric Pas (z’l). Eric and their sons were fortunate to have attended Jewish camps throughout their middle and high school years. Since the fund was founded, it has been able to partially sponsor fifty Beth El children.
General Fund: to help with the general needs of the congregation.
Gilbert Katz Education Fund: to provide scholarships for religious education.
Landscaping Fund: for the betterment of Beth El’s grounds. As this fund grows, we can take pressure off the operating budget.
Mary Berman Technology Fund: to purchase audio-visual equipment and supplies. This fund provides for new sound equipment in the main sanctuary, updated tools to improve learning in the Talmud Torah, and more.
Mitzvah Fund: to support Social Action activities at Beth El and throughout the community. Examples of efforts supported by the Fund are: the Shop with a Cop holiday program for children in need; the Durham-Chapel Hill Federations’s annual Ministers Conference that fosters interfaith community relations; MAZON (a national non-profit committed to providing a Jewish response to hunger); and support for Durham’s Urban Ministries, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Interfaith Council, and other local organizations.
Orthodox Kehillah: to support the activities and needs of the Orthodox Kehillah, such as hiring High Holiday professionals, and purchasing new prayer books and other materials.
Prayer Book Fund: to purchase prayer books for synagogue use both on Shabbat and holidays. We currently use two Chumashim (Etz Chaim and Hertz), and the Sim Shalom siddurim. As our congregation continues to grow, so does our need for additional prayer books.
Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund: to enable Rabbi Greyber to help people in our congregation, our local community, and the larger Jewish community. Ways in which this fund has been used in the past are for members who are struggling to make ends meet in a difficult economy, to provide hunger and poverty relief in Durham and Chapel Hill, to strengthen a pluralistic approach to Judaism in Israel, to make low cost health equipment available to Israel’s needy, to support our teen Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutoring program (including extra tutoring for those with special needs), to support ceremonies and study materials for conversion candidates so finances don’t become an obstacle to joining the Jewish people, funding scholarships for Jewish summer camps and other engagement programs for children and young adults, to encourage community-wide Jewish cultural programming and community observances, and to support ongoing rabbinic learning and special projects of the rabbi’s choosing.
Sam and Jeanette Fink Programming Fund: to support special Beth El programs that we enjoy at Beth El. Most recently, this fund has helped support the Healing Yoga program offered each month to those in the Beth El and in the community-at-large. The Fink fund was created in memory of Sam R.R. Fink (z’l), who was born in Poland in 1912. He and his wife Jeannette (z’l) joined Beth El in 1940 and remained active members throughout their lives.
Sandra Lazarus Youth Education Fund: to support youth activities such as AlephBet, Pre-Kadima and Kadima programs.
Talmud Torah Fund: to support special programs, projects, and equipment for the Talmud Torah not covered by the regular budget.
HOW TO DONATE
You can donate to Beth El Synagogue in a way that is most convenient for you. We offer multiple options: Cash or check, online donation using PayPal or a credit card, contributing shares of stock, and Legacy Giving.
Cash or Check
To pay by cash or check, download the Beth El Tzedakah form in PDF or Microsoft Word format. Fill it in, making sure to designate the fund or program to which you are making the donation and the individual/family to whom you want an acknowledgement sent. Mail the form and the payment to: Beth El Synagogue, 1004 Watts Street, Durham, NC 27701.
Beth El Tzedaka Form (Adobe PDF)
Beth El Tzedaka Form (Microsoft Word)
Online by PayPal or Credit Card
When you click on the “Make a Donation” button for any of the above funds, you will be redirected to our PayPal page. After completing the form, please follow up with an email to Casey Baker (firstname.lastname@example.org), alerting us to your generosity so we can make sure that all details are taken care of.
Contributing Shares of Stock
Many Beth El members contribute shares of appreciated stock to pay their dues or donate to the Annual Fund or other funds and programs. If you choose this method, you do not pay tax on your capital gain and you receive a charitable deduction equal to the entire fair market value of the shares of stock. Take these steps: (1) consult your tax advisor; (2) contact Beth El’s Financial Secretary at email@example.com for specific instructions; (3) use the stock donation form below:
Beth El Stock Donation Form (Adobe PDF)
Beth El Stock Donation Form (Microsoft Word)