What is a “KUPAH” and why should I Care?

By Michael Balanoff

According to Jewish tradition, the highest form of tzedakah or charity is giving to a central campaign or community fund called a “KUPAH.”

Throughout Jewish history, in small towns and large cities, within both Israel and the Diaspora (Jews scattered throughout the world), it was the custom of Jewish communities to create an address for centralized giving. This guaranteed the privacy and dignity of the poor as well as the successful maintenance of communal agencies.

Today, the “KUPAH” is the annual campaign of the Jewish Federation of Central New York. Gifts to the communal “KUPAH” (centralized campaign) is a “noble” expression of devotion to the Jewish people. It demonstrates a love of community that is without limitation – a proud statement of commitment to individual communities and to every individual Jew.

Maimonides created a Code of Jewish Law in the 12th century that has helped to sustain the Jewish people for centuries. Based on oral Rabbinic tradition, this code organized the ways to give charity into a simple list from the least to the most honorable. Where do you find yourself on this list?

#8 – When dnations are given grudgingly.

#7 – When one gives less than s/he should, but does so cheerfully.

#6 – When one gives directly to the poor upon being asked.

#5 – When one gives directly to the poor without being asked.

#4 – When the recipient is aware of the donor’s identity, but the donor does not know the identity of the recipient.

#3 – When the donor is aware of the recipient’s identity, but the recipient is unaware of the source.

#2 – When the donor and recipient are unknown to each other.

#1 – The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person (before he or she becomes impoverished) by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner, or by extending a suitable loan, or by helping the person find employment or establish him or herself in business so as to make it unnecessary to become dependent on others.

To make a gift to this year’s campaign:

Call 315-445-0161 ext. 102 and speak with Colleen Baker

Go to the Jewish Federation of CNY website, www.jewishfederationcny.org and pledge online