Charity, Saving a Life or Scam?

It’s that time of year again.

 Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, approaches, and it is time for 

tefilah, and teshuvah and zedakah:  prayer and repentance

charity

and appeals to give money for charity. 

Appeals are blasted on the radio, printed in the papers and sent by email.

Jerusalem photo

Small charity collection boxes and

charity boxes

large collection boxes line many Jerusalem, Israel streets.

charity box

Does 100% really go to Zedakah, to the poor? 

In The 7 habits of highly effective schnorrers

beggars, J Street

a friend discusses the sites of successful Jerusalem beggars 

beggar, Old City

from a business marketing perspective.

Techniques are varied,

beggar, Jerusalem street

from a casual stance using a loud-speaker to get attention, 

beggar

 to sitting passively, appearing down and out.

beggar woman, J street

And there is always the traditional plastic cup collection approach.

Israeli VAT, the value added tax, has gone up 1%, 

so already high prices are certain to rise as is the cost of living.

Money is tight for most everyone,

so how does one decide where to give one’s charity money?

bike riders, Alyin ride

Hundreds of riders do Wheels of Love to raise money for Alyn Hospital. 

biker, Jerusalem street

Then there is this bike rider who seems to regularly need money for 

bus fare to her daughter in Bet Shemesh or a few shekels to buy water.

A few hours after I saw her ride by,

beggar, J Street

 this young woman on the right with a small child slung over her shoulder, 

was approaching English speakers on King George Street

 asking for 35 shekel to get back to Haifa.

I recognized her from last year with the same story

and suggested she go to the synagogue for help.

I am always impressed how many people walking on Jerusalem, Israel 

streets will stop, take out money and give to those out-stretched hands.

What are true opportunities to help strangers or what are scams?

I wish I had an answer to the questions, what do you think?

As the year 5772 comes to an end,

it is time for the new year’s greeting to be back on the buses,

sign shana tova bus

Shanah tovah, Happy New Year. 

May 5773 be a prosperous and healthy one for all.

Too Darn Hot

Tel Aviv was recently rated by the Lonely Planet tour guide

as the third “hottest” city in the world

 with “more bars than synagogues.”

Jerusalem might find it hard to compete in that category.

However,  at the end of the ALYN Wheels of Love charity bike ride,

it was so darn hot that most of the bikes

came into Jerusalem in the back of a truck 

with only some of the riders on the back of their bikes.

The entertainer dressed in the monkey costume,

certainly had to be too darn hot.

The weather is not the only thing in Jerusalem that has been hot of late.

The route of the security fence 

and the construction of a fence near the village

of  al-Walejeh, Walaja,  has been hot news.

 Everyone has heard the expression “land for peace”,

even though it was so darn hot,  the Real Jerusalem  Streets

went to see what some of the “land” really looked like.

A large group met our guide in the new train station at Malcha,

which was very quiet on Friday morning.

  Although some  t-shirts displayed political statements,

we were a diverse group,

with plenty of cameras.

After parking our cars along the road,

the climb began up in the Nachal Refaim, Refaim Creek area.

Several times we stopped for lectures on the nature of the area.

Archaeology and antiquities of the area were also stressed.

The car ride had been only a few minutes long, after a brief walk,

 Malcha and Jerusalem were in full view.

 A military jeep on patrol arrived as soon as we reached the flattened area.

 

A man from the village walked to us along the proposed fence route.

He led us to an old olive tree for shade– finally a cool spot.

We were  told among other things,

how a fence will make it hard for him to visit family graves.

These were the only signs of people living in this area,

other than a couple of boys who wandered

around while we were sitting under the olive tree.

From the road the land looks like most of the land of the West Bank,

but from above, as a train passed, it was hard not to think

of how much damage terrorists could do from such a strategic spot.

 

Finally we drove toward the village.

Al-Walaja sits on a mountain top. 

Some beautiful new homes are constructed along the fence route,

but collecting the garbage would vastly improve the site.

As it was too darn hot and too darn late,

by this time the group had dwindled to a few cars.

We did not follow this woman to hear more about the fence.

  Near al-Walaja is Har Gilo, 

where Israelis live behind barbed wire with an electronic security gate.

Near the top of the mountain there were some beautiful views.

The village wants the fence route to go along the road,

not on the top of the hill.

 This tour was intended to encourage people to demonstrate 

at the Israeli Supreme Court on Monday

in support of the villagers of al-Walaja against the fence route,

which was first approved in 2006.

On Monday morning there were big banners,

but by 9:25 am only ten people were in the protest.

Too darn hot?  

The court postponed a final decision for another 40 days.

 On Monday, as on most days in Jerusalem,

the really “hot” spot was the Kotel, the Western Wall.

There were thousands representing many religions from the around the world.

Tel Aviv may have lots of  bars, 

Jerusalem has The Wall.