It’s not every day that someone hands you $800 at the airport. But that’s exactly what happened. Waiting for my flight to Cleveland, I took an empty seat near my gate. Noticing my yarmulka, the fellow next to me looked over and said, “Oh, I see that you’re Jewish!”
I smiled. “Yes, how did you know?”
He shared that he, too, was a man of strong faith. And I mean STRONG. This man knew his scriptures like the back of his hand. I was amazed at his knowledge of, and his steadfast adherence to, “the word of the Bible.”
He told me his name was Charles, and he spoke passionately about his values and convictions and his prayers for the world. Now, I’ve worked for Jewish non-profits for almost two decades, and I’ve been involved in fundraising for most of that time. I’ve never asked a non-Jewish person for tzedaka – but something told me that this man would truly appreciate the opportunity.
“Excuse me for asking,” I said, “but based on the kind of person you seem to be, I wonder if you might be interested in what I do. Do you tithe?”
“Of course I tithe,” he said. “Ten percent and more! I’d love to hear more about what you do.”
I explained the concept of Daily Giving. We invite people to commit to a donation of as little as $1 every day. One dollar a day isn’t very much – but when thousands of people donate together, it makes a huge impact. I told him we were on track to give out $5 million dollars this year – and counting!
He had only one question: “Where does the money go?”
I told him we don’t take a penny for ourselves, and we distribute 100% of the funds to nearly 80 different organizations that fulfill various important needs of the Jewish community. The way it works is you make a donation of either $31 every month or $365 every year, and then we act as your messenger to share $1 every day.
He was holding his phone, so I pointed to it and said, “You can check it out now. Go to dailygiving.org.”
And to my surprise, he put his hand straight into his pocket and said, “Put me down for 500 days!”
He handed me five crisp $100 bills.
I sat there completely shocked. I couldn’t believe what happened.
He smiled and said, “I have been blessed. And I know what I’m supposed to do with that blessing. And if the Bible says, ‘Those who bless the Jewish people become blessed,’ then I’m going to get that blessing, too! G-d loves you people, and I’d love to be a part of what you’re doing.”
I thanked him profusely, and we spoke for a few more minutes. Before getting up to board his plane, he said, “Look. We have to live our faith. You see, I’m in for almost two years of giving now. You know what? Let’s just do it now.” He reached into his pocket again and handed over another $300! “This is for 800 days of giving,” he said.
A picture is worth 1,000 words
Before he walked away, I had enough sense in me to snap a picture. I sent it to my team and told them the story, and we posted it on LinkedIn. Before I knew it, the story took off. Since before Shabbos, the story has over ¼ of a million views, and my friends in Cleveland are asking me if I’m “that famous guy from LinkedIn.”
But while hundreds have shared the story and commented about the kiddush Hashem and how the story had made their day, I’ve been thinking all week about one question.
How did Charles do it? How did he make such a strong connection between his faith and his actions that he had absolutely NO hesitation from that thought and that deed?
Why can’t I do that? I have so many things that I know I can do better – but when it comes down to doing it, something gets in the way. Why can’t we all give tzedaka with that same conviction? Why can’t we be on time for davening with that same excitement? Why can’t we treat the people in our family in the way we know we should? Why is there a disconnect between what we know we should do – and whether or not we actually do it?
If I were able to tell you how much Hashem loves when you give tzedaka to help His people – you wouldn’t just give – you’d give every single day.
That’s what Daily Giving does for you. You should absolutely support your shul, and your schools, and all the important institutions that you uphold – but you should save just $1 every day and make sure not one day goes by that you miss that mitzvah.
And there are other ways to give to Hashem. Everyone knows in their life something they’ve been thinking about and haven’t yet been able to do. Know that Hashem is waiting for each of us – not to do something BIG – just to do our part.
And that tzedaka that you give and those mitzvos that you do with your whole heart, Hashem will surely preserve forever.