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Letters: Charity is a Jewish virtue

June 28, 2012

Re "New wave, new target?," Opinion, June 25

Despite Gregory Rodriguez's excellent points concerning the connection between high socioeconomic status and bigotry, I take issue with his retelling of one writer's simplistic assertion that Jewish philanthropy is motivated "by a desire to defuse envy over the income disparity between the Jewish and Gentile populations."

Generosity is a built-in Jewish value. Every Jewish kid learns of tzedakah — that charity is an obligation. Equally important is tikkun olam, or making the world a better place. Both values serve the lofty goal of tzedek, or justice. "Follow justice and justice alone," says Deuteronomy 16:20, encompassing social justice too.

When Jews began immigrating in the late 19th century to this country, they did so primarily to be able to live free of persecution. So whenever possible, with enormous gratitude, Jews immerse themselves in philanthropic opportunities, passing that value on to successive generations.

Sharon Levy



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