As we witness the deconstruction of many vital social services across the US and in many parts of the world, we believe we have an obligation to give back to those who are less fortunate. Now more than ever.
In Judaism, the act of helping those in need is called “tzedakah." In Islam, it is known as “sadaqah.” Both faiths believe offering financial assistance to those in need is less about the idea of charity, and more a requirement to help create an equitable society for everyone. While Rabbis of classical Judaism spoke about tzedakah as equal in value to all the other commandments combined, sadaqah is a vital duty for a Muslim. In fact, zakat is a mandatory pillar within Islam. Both faiths view helping other people as a vital requirement for personal and societal development.
Before Abe’s Eats became a food venture, we were simply an interfaith initiative brought together by local volunteers who focused on combatting the rise in bigotry through the production of a variety of programs. Today, these initiatives are best known as the Shabbat Salaam dinner series and the Yalla, Yalla! food history tour. We always knew that Abe’s would integrate a give-back model when it became a nonprofit or social enterprise. The big question was what would it look like?
Over the last year our team has white boarded multiple scenarios -- from continuing to fund our own interfaith programming to partnering with likeminded organizations. As we continue to evolve our strategy to create the most impact, what we know for sure is that practicing tzedakah and sadaqah will be a vital pillar integrated into our work culture. It will not simply be a corporate social responsibility add-on. As an interfaith venture, tzedakah and sadaqah are part of our identity. While tzedakah has no precise amount in relation to giving back, zakat is commonly identified as a 2.5% ‘tax’ on nisaab (the wealth of an individual after living expenses). Therefore, we have chosen to double our sadaqah to contribute 5% of our nisaab to help communities who are less fortunate. In the future, we hope to give more.
Naturally, we wanted to focus on initiatives that celebrated and promoted interfaith dialogue and unity. However, both faiths speak about challenging the root causes of poverty. In many cases, poverty helps extremism become stronger, causing new issues for our faith-based communities. It is for this reason that we will focus on offering immediate care associated to this problem alongside other interfaith institutions. Stay tuned!
From the Kitchen,
Founder, Abe's Eats