My cousin Joe and his wife are guests of honor at a fund-raising dinner for . Double whammy; their son and daughter-in-law are the award recipients. Herein lies the problem: I love, adore, and admire my cousins, but I am not a fan of the cause. NCSY is the Jewish equivalent to the Christian . Both are very good organizations with missions to encourage teens to develop leadership skills and deepen their religious commitment. Those are worthy goals; I recognize a need and I fully support the concept. What bothers me is the approach to faith and God by some religious youth groups.

There’s no wiggle room for one’s personal beliefs. Both Orthodox Jews and Fundamental Christians, take the same position when it comes to their core principles: all followers must abide by the rules. I’m a strong believer, when it comes to believing, we have choice: To accept or reject, to change and grow.

So what do I do about the solicitation disguised as an invitation? I can send in the enclosed envelope with my credit card info and a donation in  honor of my deserving cousins. Or, I can play a game with myself; WWJD- What would (cousin) Joe do? If I was being honored by , the youth group, would he donate?

I’ve been involved in fundraising long enough to know; quid pro quo giving is a bad idea. When one person makes a gift with strings attached, expecting a gift in return, it demeans the spirit of giving. I guess the right thing to do, is to be tolerant. To avoid judgment of NCSY, and simply show my pride in the wonderful accomplishments my cousins have made to their community. When it comes to my personal charitable contributions, I’ll continue to be discriminating. When it comes to honoring the people I love, I’ll be generous.

The greatest gifts
don’t fit in a box.
They slip into the heart
without ribbons or bows,
and make a home there.

Beginning small,
They are larger than any of us,
more powerful;
they move mountains,
fueled by what is best in us.

Anyone can give.
Charity is not barred
by age or size or talent.
It takes only one action
to incrementally
change the world.
to begin together.



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