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


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, 


 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.

Erev Yom Kippur

Before Yom Kippur, whether late at night or before dawn,

one can attend special Selichot prayers all around Jerusalem.

It can be difficult to get to the Old City due to the huge numbers of people…

every night and all night long.

During the day, beside the usual crowds at the Kotel, the Western Wall,

there are bus loads of girls on school trips.

 This is a special time for tefilah,


and zedakah,


and also for many, special Torah study and classes.

As Yom Kippur  begins, all regular traffic stops.

At least for one day a year, the signs,

  “Do not murder” on the road

and “Do not drink and drive” are obeyed.

And to end with a favorite sign, the erev Yom Kippur bus sign…

  Chatimah tovah

may all be sealed for a good year.