Mark Zuckerberg stunned the world yesterday. Not with the announcement of a baby girl. Everybody knew that was coming. It was an accompanying letter outlining his and his wife Priscilla's plan to donate 99 percent of Facebook stock (valued now at $45 billion) to a foundation.
The High Holidays and Sukkot have ended. This marathon of Jewish Holy Days earned many of us an increased spiritual awareness, sensitivity and commitment. But how can we maintain that growth throughout the year?
Today, because it is impossible to do it in a kosher way, we must perform the ritual with money. Rabbinic sources including the Chayei Adam and Mishna Berurah are clear that when the ritual cannot be performed in a kosher way it is preferable to use money.
Judaism recognises that unemployment has a psychological as well as economic dimension. As a matter of religious principle, job creation must be at the centre of any long-term welfare policy. Human dignity requires no less.
I don't need Holocaust memorials to remind me of the loss of Lejzor Trajster and his family, or any of the rest of our families that by chance and the cruelty of nations never made it out of Europe. I need only remember my name.
As the new year begins, instead of just making a resolution to lose five pounds or to call your mother more often (both fine objectives), make a commitment to think differently. Pledge to look around your community and think about what is needed.
Looking at these pieces of art gives me great hope that a new generation of globally conscious designers are celebrating the critical role that tzedakah plays in today's world and that the next generation of Jews will both give and talk about giving.
We must make ethical buying choices because it is the right thing to do. But we can't end there. We must raise our voices and tell the corporations that we will not eat or wear the products of exploitation.
Nearly thirty years later, my mom still won't tell me how that sack found its way under our tree. Maybe I don't really want to know; it lets me believe, if not in Santa, in the kindness of family, friends and possibly even strangers.