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September 5, 2015 | 21st Elul 5775

Ner Shel Tzedakah Program Ideas

Programs for individuals, families, synagogues, religious schools and youth groups.


Programs individuals and families can do:

Invite a local welfare agency to match you with a local needy family. You can then provide the family with items from "wish lists" that the family members create.

  • Join a local Meals on Wheels program to deliver hot meals to homebound individuals.
  • Volunteer at hospitals, shelters or soup kitchens on the sixth night of Chanukah.


Programs synagogues, religious schools, and youth groups can do:

  • Clothing Drives: Winter Warm Up clothing drives can successfully meet seasonal needs among the poor and homeless communities.  New or lightly worn hats, gloves, coats, boots, and scarves can be collected and donated to a local shelter.  This project could be one aspect of your Chanukah celebration, reminding the community to engage in social action during the holiday.
  • Mitzvah Mall: Religious school students bring tzedakah money to the Mitzvah Mall prior to the holiday.  A number of poverty-related organizations set up tables so that they can educate the students about their work.  Then the children allocate their donations to the organizations that impressed them.  This could also be done with adults as a synagogue or community-wide project.  Contributions can be made in honor or in memory of friends and family and given as Chanukah gifts on the sixth night.
  • Light One Candle: Congregants at Congregation Shir Tikvah (Troy, MI) provide Chanukah gifts to less fortunate children, seniors and homeless adults in their community in a very personal way. Participants pick one or more candles from a large cardboard menorah, each listing the gender and age of one recipient. The congregant purchases a gift for the selected person and it is delivered along with the gifts bought by other participants.
  • Activities for Each Night of Chanukah
    • Eight Sites of Chanukah: This new ritual, proposed by Rabbi Harley Karz-Wagman, encourages family members to research and share websites of their choosing that relate to tzedakah causes, such as poverty on each night of Chanukah
    • Eight Tzedakah Actions: provides suggestions developed by Barbara Lerman-Golomb, a member of the Commission on Social Action, that allow individuals to participate in social action on each night of Chanukah. 



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