Relentless hate violence continues to send shock waves of trauma throughout our nation. It's vital to look beyond contentious media debates toward the continuous just-giving across conventional lines of conflict — the healing, practical actions that disappear most quickly from the headlines.
Muslim-American community organizations have raised nearly $49,000 for the shooting victims in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, as well as more than $230,000 for the wounded and murdered shooting victims in Pittsburgh.
Two-thirds of the funds raised by nearly 6,000 donors to the Pittsburgh campaign are being disbursed by local partners to meet the immediate, short-term needs of injured victims and grieving families. The remaining funds will support projects that help to foster Muslim-Jewish collaboration, dialogue, and solidarity.
A similar Muslim-American effort on behalf of vandalized Jewish cemeteries in 2017 drew more than $160,000 from nearly 5,000 donors. Funds have been disbursed to restore Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Denver. Most recently, the funding scope was extended to Jewish centers beyond cemeteries, as $10,000 was disbursed to help restore the Tree of Life synagogue devastated by the Pittsburgh shooting.
Meanwhile, a unique form of just-giving is deterring online hate speech. Life After Hate — which works to end violent extremism from the inside out — is the beneficiary of donations pledged through #WeCounterHate, a platform that slows the spread of hate speech on Twitter. After messages designated as hate speech are identified and “countered” through innovative technology, every retweet commits a donation to non-profits that work against hate. First-year results are encouraging.
Just-giving — simple and fair, with thoughtful adjustments as appropriate — becomes possible when we commit to a regular percentage of income. As we continue to set our chosen percentage of money aside, there are many ways to practice the action / reflection of disbursing it.
The possibilities above and below respond to recent events that reflect ongoing challenges of healing and justice. They are offered as suggestions and inspiration for the process of developing your own individualized giving plan. Please contact us for further guidance.
We are facing the worst global refugee crisis since World War II, with nearly 69 million people forcibly displaced from their homes. Consider supporting:
The renewed Sanctuary Movement and/or one of its local coalitions — faith-based solidarity networks working on multiple fronts to expand access to safe spaces for all;
RAICES, which has raised the bar for just-giving on the beneficiary end by declining a major gift from a corporation that indirectly profits from the separation of immigrant families. RAICES also supports the bail bond funding of other immigrant advocacy groups through solidarity across state borders (check to see if your local sanctuary coalition maintains its own bail bond fund).
Hotline for Refugees and Migrants in Israel, which defends the rights of migrants and refugees, combats human trafficking, and provides crucial leadership in the current Israeli crisis threatening African asylum seekers;
ATZUM-Justice Works, which has extended its work in Israel against human trafficking to serve as fiscal sponsor for the Kibbutz Resettlement initiative on behalf of African asylum seekers;
Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) of the Urban Justice Center, which has developed a high-impact model of legal advocacy on behalf of refugees to the U.S.;
NYDreamer Fund of the New Economy Project, which makes grants and 0% interest loans to cover DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) renewal fees for NYC residents — and identifies resources for those beyond NYC;
HIAS, whose core mission is to assist refugees — "not because they're Jewish, but because we are" — and a key resource for additional ways to help;
Other nonsectarian organizations such as Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), and Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees.
Please consider a donation to the Indigenous Environmental Network or Honor the Earth, two organizations at the forefront of solidarity with the Water Protectors; to the Water Protector Legal Collective; or to Earthjustice, which is providing general legal representation to the Standing Rock Sioux.
Please support the efforts of Community Justice Reform Coalition, which empowers these survivors at the intersection of gun safety, criminal justice, domestic violence and police reform. "We believe that to truly free ourselves from trauma, we must reimagine and redefine what safety and security mean for those at the margins of society."
As justice remains elusive following the 2016 shooting of Alton Sterling, the 23,980 donors who contributed $714,448 to a scholarship fund for his children still speak to the range of vital opportunities for just-giving through these wrenching times. The legacy of Montrell Jackson points to additional possibilities.
Together Baton Rouge takes a grass-roots, community-based approach to accountability and citizen leadership across lines of diversity, and plays a leading role in Louisiana flood recovery advocacy. In NYC, consider supporting Communities United for Police Reform.
Some of the most vulnerable immigrants — as well as native-born Americans — in the U.S. today are the front-line workers who plant, harvest, process, pack, transport, prepare, serve, and sell our food.
Please support the Coalition of Imokalee Workers (CIW). Immokalee, Florida is the source of nearly all winter tomatoes grown in the U.S. The CIW is a worker-based human rights organization internationally recognized for its achievements in the fields of social responsibility, human trafficking, and gender-based violence at work. The CIW is also a driving force behind the Alliance for Fair Food, a national partnership network for farmworker justice.
The Food Chain Workers Alliance (FCWA) includes member organizations like the CIW across the country which have joined forces to improve wages and working conditions for all workers along the food chain.
In NYC, consider supporting Brandworkers and Restaurant Opportunities Center-NY. These are FCWA member organizations which bring local food workers together to organize for good, dignified jobs and a just and sustainable food system.
The devastation of Hurricane Matthew highlighted the vulnerability of the hardest-hit — especially in Haiti, one of the poorest nations in the world, where top-down assistance efforts have been notoriously unsuccessful over the decades.
Consider a donation to Fonkoze ("Shoulder to Shoulder Foundation"), a family of organizations working together for more than two decades to provide financial and related mutual support services that empower more than 200,000 Haitians — primarily women — to lift their families out of poverty. Fonkoze is at the forefront of grassroots hurricane response efforts in hard-to-access rural areas.
Community philanthropy expert Dr. Jason Franklin offers broader reflections on Philanthropy in the Aftermath of Disaster.
Rabbi Louis Rieser is living through treatment for a brain tumor. He and his wife Connie Rieser decided to give tzedakah for each initial week of treatment:
"Tzedakah is on behalf of healing, for ourselves and for our doctors, and for all of our helpers.
"The first Tzedakah recipient is Sawyer Shore. Sawyer is the one year old baby of our dear friends, Sarah and Cantor Stephanie Shore. Sawyer is currently undergoing chemotherapy for Wilm's Tumor. We encourage anyone who wishes to support them as well....
"Our tzedakah for [the second] week goes to Talia Agler Girls Shelter (TAGS) in Nairobi. On January 27, 2012, Talia, the daughter of our colleague and friend, Rabbi Richard and Mindy Agler, was struck by an automobile and fatally injured. According to the website created by her family, 'Tali sought to better the world and she succeeded in doing so — through her work, through her wit and through her love'."
Sixteen-year-old Shira Banki was murdered while supporting LGBTQ friends and others at the 2015 March for Pride and Tolerance in Jerusalem. Her bereaved parents subsequently established Shira Banki's Way, an Israeli public benefit company whose rallying call is "It Is Better To Teach The Good Than To Criticize The Evil."
On first anniversary of Shira's death, commemorated among 25,000 participants at the 2016 Jerusalem march, her parents reaffirmed their call from her funeral "to hate less and love more":
"The lesson that we have to learn from the murder of Shira, and from the national [Jewish] destruction of 2,000 years ago, is that moderation is a virtue for all of us — because extremism, no matter the kind, is a sure path to destruction....It's not too late for you. Don't let hatred, ignorance, and prejudice sweep you away. Get up and stand for your right to live in a tolerant and moderate society. Thank you."
In the midst of their initial grief, Shira's parents — like the parents of Talia Agler — made the decision to donate their daughter's organs to save the lives of others. Learn about Jewish anatomical donations, and consider helping to make more of these gifts of the body available to the millions of people whose lives depend upon them.
Before the 2015 / 5776 High Holy Days, the Israeli grassroots coalition Tag Meir called for donations to support the orphaned Ahmed and his surviving family. The month-long fundraising campaign brought in the equivalent of nearly $100,000 in Israeli shekels, the average donation being the equivalent of $37.
Consider a donation to the Parents Circle - Families Forum, a joint Israeli-Palestinian organization made up of more than 600 bereaved families who have chosen a path of reconciliation. Also consider supporting Healing Across the Divides, which supports health initiatives in Israel and the West Bank that promote the health of Israelis and Palestinians while helping to forge inter-agency cooperation and mutual understanding.