the summer, @The Source Israel had lunch with Ira Kaminow, creator
of Just-Tzedakah.org at the Washington, DC, JCC’s cafe. It didn’t take long
for @The Source Israel to realize that Just-Tzedakah.org is a virtual Lend-a-Hand
opportunity that is ideal for our readers.
This non-profit has an interesting
history which Ira recounts as follows: He began the Tzedakah project in
1995 in response to being innundated with fundraising solicitations. Ira
felt that he needed to know more about each group before deciding which were
worthy recipients of his charitable donations. Ira is a trained researcher
and his research evolved into a publication called Tzedakah
Reports. These reports are profiles of Jewish philanthropies and provide
information on activities, leadership, and finances. Due to the level of
interest in Tzedakah Reports, Ira founded his own non-profit organization
in 1998 called Tzedakah, Inc. and published the reports on the website. The site has since been
expanded to include traditional Jewish source material about the mitzvah
of giving as well as on-line giving opportunities through The Electronic
Tzedakah Box. Giving
Certificate is available on the website.
The most novel approach is the Giving
Certificates (TM) which are an excellent gift for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
Here’s how it works: The well-wisher makes a tax deductible donation to
Tzedekah, Inc. but the actual responsibility of allocating the donation is
left up to the Bar or Bat Mitzvah child. The child receives a Giving Certificate
in the mail that notifies him of the contribution. He can choose from a list
of about 70 Jewish philanthropies, each of which is profiled in a Tzedakah
Report, found on the website. The child then notifies Tzedakah, Inc. how
the money is to be allocated and the funds are forwarded to the different
philanthropies. Giving Certificates are a terrific way to encourage responsible
giving and are a truly meaningful gift for a Bnai Mitzvah celebration. A
$3 tax deductible processing fee is charged for each Giving Certificate.
Over lunch, @The Source Israel also
learned that Ira and his wife Susan had become the grandparents of twins
that very week. In his spare time, Ira is an economist and president of
a Washington, DC, consulting firm.