B’Nai Tzedek: Foundations in Philanthropy

-by Joshua Katz

Around ten kids my age were sitting at the table, and the only other person I knew was my brother. As my first B’Nai Tzedek meeting started, we got a little background on what exactly it was that we were doing. They told us we had $10,000 to donate to Jewish organizations around Memphis. Everyone in the room was awestruck, “Ten thousand dollars, that’s so much!” We all thought it would be so easy to hand out such a large sum of money, until we got the proposals from the community. After adding up all the proposals, the amount needed was over $40,000.

Joshua Katz - B'Nail TzedakWe looked over each and every proposal carefully, scoring them on their relation to Judaism, how much the organization actually needed the money, and so on. It was amazing how fast we were getting to know each other from this. Despite our differences we worked together agreeing, disagreeing, and coming up with solutions of how to split the money. After, our first meeting of several hours, we had cut down the $40,000 significantly. We all came back into our next meeting as colleagues and friends working hard at bringing our total down, until we made it to $10,000.

Each year after my first, I have had more and more compassion for the recipients that were receiving our grants. We read over the details of their specific needs, and it has made me realize how thankful I am for what I have. It is an amazing feeling at the end of each year, getting up in front of all the organizations, and knowing that the grant you are about to give them is helping out our Memphis community. It allows organizations to keep improving their programs, add new ones, and most of all give back to the people of Memphis.

Being placed on this special board has given me a new eye for charity. It is amazing how much the people around us do for the better of everyone, and B’Nai Tzedek has taught me how important it is to give back. Whether it’s a few dollars or hundreds of thousands, I have learned that every donation helps these institutions. B’nai Tzedek has given me a foundation and a start with philanthropy, so later on I can be a leader in my community, and give back to them as well.

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