Friday, May 20, 2011

Changing Tzedakah Priorities

I was recently invited to attend a program by Yeshivat Sha'alvim - the Hesder yeshiva which I attended during the years after high school. My years in Sha'alvim represented a formative time in my life, educationally, personally and intellectually. I met some of the most intelligent, passionate people I have ever known. I learned about unapologetic religious Zionism first-hand (something that simply doesn't exist in America, where Zionists must struggle between the pull of their ideology and their residence in the Diapsora), and my Hebrew skills improved exponentially, spending much of my day immersed in a predominantly Hebrew and Israeli culture.
I'm probably going to attend the event. But I'm beginning to wonder about a shift in my tzedakah priorities: on one hand, we give looking back to the institutions that made us who we are. But we also give looking forward, trying to anticipate communal and family needs. My high school was great. But I no longer live in Silver Spring, Md. Or America. And the Yeshiva of Greater Washington now serves a new generation of students and families. So I don't give to them anymore - not because it's not a good school, but because it's time for the current YGW community to take up the burden of support.
This brings me to wonder: Do graduates support institutions because of what they received, or because they want the institution to give others what they received as well. Do I still continue to give to my old yeshiva, or turn to new priorities that will have a greater impact on my new home, and my childrens' future?