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Giving Tuesday at AJHS

Join us on Tuesday, November 29 in a Global Day of Giving

Justine Wise Polier and Eleanor Roosevelt conversing with Women’s Division members at Annual Hanukkah Luncheon, American Jewish Congress records, undated, 1916-2006 (I-77)

Philanthropy is not unique to the United States, but United States philanthropy is unique! Americans consistently rank among the most charitable people in the world, and charitable giving and community support for humane causes has an extended tradition here.

The spectrum of American organizations existing to do good work and reliant upon the philanthropy of American people is broad, and the number, incalculable. From hospitals, schools, religious organizations, aid societies and enterprising scientific research initiatives, to world-renowned cultural institutions and the tiniest of regional museums, so many vital American organizations and missions are held aloft and invigorated by the generosity of people who align with them.

The American Jewish Historical Society is a perfect example – we have been engaged in acquiring, preserving, and sharing American Jewish history for 130 years, thanks to the support of those who believe in our mission and understand its importance.

HIAS volunteers helping refugee families Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) collection I-363

This Giving Tuesday, we are inspired to think about the rich tradition of giving in the United States, the ways in which many of our collections illustrate this tradition, and how the history represented within these collections informs the ways in which we engage with philanthropy in our nation.

Jewish traditions of what we now call philanthropy began with biblical edicts to ensure care for the poor and vulnerable. The concept of Tzedakah, a moral obligation to give charitably, laid the groundwork for American Jewish philanthropy, and these beliefs and cultural traditions naturally influenced Jewish life in America. Ultimately, many of the current structures and traditions around charitable giving in our country can be traced to American Jewish ingenuity around funding necessary causes, and many of the roots of our American traditions surrounding charitable giving were laid by our Jewish forebears.

AJHS strives to preserve and provide access to the entire tapestry of the presence, history, and impact of Jews in America. This naturally includes the American Jewish philanthropic endeavors that have shaped and impacted American Jewish history, and, therefore, American history.

Update: To learn more about the history of Jewish giving watch a special Live from the Archive program that took place on November 29, 2022.

Support AJHS and our efforts to preserve history this Giving Tuesday.