Understand the importance of Maimonides’ Ladder and giving to charity
By the end of the lesson, the children will have learnt about Maimonides’ Ladder of Charity and thought about how to give tzedakah
- Brainstorm about charity – write the word CHARITY on the board and ask children to contribute their thoughts to the brainstorm. Prompt with questions such as, what does charity mean? How should you give to charity? Why should you give to charity? In what ways can you give to charity?
- Justice or charity – for older children
Ask if anyone ever heard about the word tzedaka? What does it mean? Some will say charity and others justice. Let them make definitions of each.
a) Justice: Balance out a wrong, who brings justice? (courts – even in biblical times).
b) Charity: Give money or things. Latin root is caritas (love – give because you want to).
The difference between them is between the choice to give verus having the responsibility to give. Which one is better/higher? Don’t give them the answer just let them discuss it.
- Remind the children that the Hebrew for charity is Tzedakah – Write this on the board.
- Discuss whether the children have ever given charity before – Ask children if they or their family have given to charity and list the different charities on board. If appropriate, ask children why they have given to this charity, how it makes them feel and how they think it helps their chosen charity.
- Discussion for older children: You are a skilled person and you have done very well for yourself. You have a nice house, a good job, lovely car etc. Your neighbour, however, has fallen on hard times and has no job, no money, and might lose his house. What, if anything, should you do for him? What is the best way to help him?
Then turn the scenario around so that they are the person who has fallen on hard times, and then ask what their neighbour or friend should do for them.
- How should we give to charity? – Give class the eight Levels of Tzedakah (scrambled) and ask them to put them in order according to what they think is most useful/beneficial/important. Discuss with children as you go and then at the end.
- Display Maimonides’ Ladder of Charity:– order the levels of tzedakah and discuss further. Explain that Maimonides was a Jewish Philosopher (1135-1204) and his levels of tzedakah are still seen as relevant today.
- Option 1: Re-create Maimonides’ Ladder – Children to make their own ladder of charity based on Maimonides’ Ladder. This should be as creative, big, bright and bold as possible!! Label each rung of the ladder 1-8 and add the level of tzedakah to it (again, this can be creative, e.g. a string or footprint etc). During the making process, ensure that children are questioned so that they understand why each level of tzedakah is higher than the other.
- Option 2: Draw Maimonides’ Ladder – Children to draw their own version of Maimonides’ Ladder (it could be creative, e.g. a crooked staircase) depicting the different levels of tzedakah
- Where are you on Maimonides’ Ladder– Children to think about where they are placed on the ladder and discuss.
- Charity or justice- discussion for older children. If you were poor or in a difficult situation which reason for tzedakah would you prefer: justice (responsibility to help) or charity (choice to help).
- What is a child’s responsibility in relation to tzedaka –discuss what is the minimum age to give tzedaka? (Never too young to give to others).
- Research a charity each and then in the group vote for the one charity that they want to support in the next year. They will have to know their charity well, be able to advocate for it and convince the others of its merit. Different fundraisers can be made during the year for each charity