Shabbat Shalom: Giving to Community

Mar 14, 2024 | Article

By: Michelle Ruby
Director of Israel Teen Emissaries and Education

This week’s Torah portion, Pikudei, describes the completion of the building of the Tabernacle. With the construction complete, Moses thanks the artisans, builders and volunteers who participated in the project. A dedication ceremony is held during which Moses recognizes and blesses them for their efforts. We understand this blessing as being directed specifically at those who were hands-on during the building, and it seems that the people who contributed much of their gold, jewels, fabric and wealth to the cause were left out of Moses’ expression of gratitude. Why? After all, they were the donors whom without, the Tabernacle could not have been completed.

Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum explains, “Not to say the benefactors didn’t deserve blessing; they had been thanked and praised upon first making their contribution. However, the choice at this juncture was Moses’ way of subtly reinforcing an important message.” She continues to say, “The only way to be blessed forever is to give with your hands and your heart.” This struck me as a bit of a divisive statement between those who give their money and those who give their time.

When I started at JEWISHcolorado, I saw philanthropy in a way I had never seen before. When the Boulder fires devastated so many, I watched as our team mobilized and immediately opened an emergency campaign to get money into the hands of those who needed food, clothing, and shelter. Only weeks later were there opportunities for hands-on volunteers to help the community. The first need was just dollars. I saw this again in the wake of October 7th. When the attack was first reported, once again the Jco team mobilized and had an emergency fund open for donations within hours. In the weeks that followed, the tremendous generosity of the community had raised over 7 million dollars—all before Israel was able to accept volunteers on the ground. In those early weeks, people were asking to go and be useful, but because of the number of displaced Israelis, there weren’t even rooms for visitors to stay in. They just needed money to feed, clothe and provide shelter.

This shows it takes both. With our hands or our dollars, all of it comes from our hearts. For that reason, everyone who gives something of themselves to the community deserves both gratitude and blessing.

Please email Michelle Ruby at with questions or comments.