Tzedek means righteousness, justice or fairness, and is the root of the word tzedakah, the Hebrew word for the acts that we call “charity” in English: giving aid, assistance and money to the poor and needy or to other worthy causes. However, the nature of tzedakah is very different from the idea of charity. The word “charity” suggests benevolence and generosity, a magnanimous act by the wealthy and powerful for the benefit of the poor and needy. In Judaism, giving to the poor is not viewed as a generous, magnanimous act; it is simply an act of justice and righteousness, the performance of a duty, giving the poor their due. We use this term to apply not only to monetary aid, but also to our quest for social justice. Even the poor are obligated to do what they can to help others.
As an individual or in a group of no more than four, Confirmands must choose a yearlong tzedek project on which to work. It may be an on-going volunteer commitment, planning and executing a sale or fundraiser to benefit an organization, a collection drive raising awareness of an issue of social justice, or an idea of his or her own.
Students must take photos and document their work during all stages of this project. Each group, or individual, will create a display, which shares with family, friends and the congregation their journey of social justice. The documentation and photos must be incorporated on a “science fair” style display board, which showcases the project. These will be presented in class in April, and then again at Confirmation in May.