Yidden and Their Money: A “Mi Ke’amcha Yisroel” Moment


moneyBy S. Friedman, Matzav.com

I recently came across a news tidbit involving a famous football player generously sponsoring scholarships for 9 graduating high school students.  How much for each aspiring collegian?  One thousand dollars.  Nice gesture, for sure, but it struck me how a donation of $9,000 from a multi-millionaire athlete is seen by the news establishment as noteworthy.  Though I have given this phenomenon thought in the past, seeing the $9,000 donation make headlines made me again swell with pride.

Vice President Joe Biden famously averaged $369 a year in charity giving.  Our much more “openhanded” President gave $2,350 in the year 2000, or about 1% of his income.  These are the leaders of our nation, and supposedly the cream of the crop.  I don’t doubt that almost any breadwinner amongst our community has given money to tzedakkah that dwarfs those amounts.  The average dinner we attend cost the $360 that Biden shelled out for an entire year, and many balei tzedakkah who opened their doors on Purim gave much more than the $9,000 on that single night than this athlete did.

What’s interesting about the generosity of our people is that it seems not to be limited to those of us that are fully observant of Hashem’s mitzvos.  Our brethren who identify themselves as “traditional Jews” are the world’s greatest benefactors by any measure.  Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle) gives over $100 million annually to charity.  Mayor Mike Bloomberg has given $200 million annually.  The list goes on.  A Who’s Who of successful Jewish businessmen regularly dominates the world’s top donors list.

Now I may be tempted to shout this from the rooftops, as a rejoinder to those who never bore of the anti-Semitic “cheap Jews” rhetoric, but I won’t.  I don’t have to answer to the masses.  Eisav sonei es Yaakov, and that’s not going to change.  However, a lá Rav Levi Yitzchok of Berditchiv zt”l, I would like to produce a “mi k’amcha Yisroel” moment.

We know the financial burden of living a frum lifestyle is vastly different from one that is not.  For instance, consider public school, no kosher food, no bar mitzvahs, minuscule weddings, no support past marriage for children, no matzos, no esrogim.  No tefillin, no sheitels, no mezuzahs, no Sifrei Torah, no yeshiva/seminary in Eretz Yisroel.  The list goes on.  These expenses are absent from people who are not frum Yidden, but for us it is standard.  We also can’t generate any income on Shabbos, making us approximately 14.2% behind the eight ball when it comes to making a living.

Here’s another list.  Tomchei Shabbos, Bikor Cholim, Chai Lifeline, your son’s Yeshiva, your daughter’s Bais Yaakov.  Your old Yeshiva, your local shul, Hatzolo, Shuvu, Sinai Academy.  Oorah, Lev L’Achim, Bonei Oilem.  The list goes on.  There are numerous Yeshivos and organizations with multi-million dollar budgets that all get supported through our generous contributions. 

Whether it be the multi millionaire dedicating a new building for a loved one, or a Kollel Avreich giving a $18 check to help out, the proportion of our communities’ benevolence is staggering.  Recently I’ve heard/read people complaining on the extravagant spending on Shalach Monos, and a similar sentiment about Pesach hotels is surely percolating as well.  The merits of how people lavishly spend their money on what others consider frivolities is another topic.  In the meantime, I just want to reflect on the Kiddush Hashem that our philanthropic people make and proudly declare, “Mi K’amcho Yisroel!”

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. The author wrote,
    “Vice President Joe Biden famously averaged $369 a year in charity giving. Our much more “openhanded” President gave $2,350 in the year 2000, or about 1% of his income.”
    That’s why they push gov. healthcare, and in general a welfare society. They can’t comprehend how a community can be so generous in helping out their own. They think if the government won’t take care of the poor people (and spending half the money on red tape too), no one will.

  2. $9,000 and it’s in the news? That’s crazy. If the media paid attention to the Jews charity like they do to their building then maybe the world wouldn’t hate us as much.

  3. With all due respect, there are some very charitable non Jews an, as you point out, some extremely generous non observant yiden. Tzedakah is not unique to the Jewish community, though as with so many other pursuits, our torch does lead the way!

  4. In Lakewood, my Wachovia branch was out of $1 bills. They said they stocked up before Purim with $15,000 $1 bills, as well as the other Wachovia branch in Lakewood. Thats $30,000 from just one of the banks in town, just in $1 bills! Obviously much much more is given out in Large checks/Bills! Mi Kiamcha Yisroel!!

  5. PROUD TO BE JEWISH!!!!!!!!
    #4, Just because Jews don’t put blood in their Matzos, does not mean all non-Jews murder little boys.
    No-one said that non-Jews don’t give Charity. What was said, is that the leaders of the non Jewish nations give pathetic, almost non existent amounts of Tzedakah ($396 is almost cry-able!), whereas in the Jewish world, We dish out 100’s of $$$ to help others, without making anything of it.
    Mi Ke’amchah Yisroel, Goy Echad Ba’Aretz

  6. Thankfully the author had the good sense to not name the NFL player by name as he attempts to bring up the Jewish people by putting others down. The President and Vice Presidents tax forms are matter of public record. Those of the NFL player are not. And if you would bother to look into what this player does you will see that the $9000 donated was a nice gesture in the memory of his teammate who was murdered and a nice surprise to the student recipients. You paint the player as tightfisted, but he is anything but. He has his own foundation that benefits foster children and appears to go exemplary work. He has been honored with the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. If you look at the names of the other recipients of this reward for charity and service you will see that he is in good company. All of these men have given tremendous sums of money to charity and given back to their communities in very special ways.

    The Jewish people is a great and generous people. That can be stated without libeling an individual who appears to be a role model in the area of giving, both of money, skill, and time.

  7. I think you missed the point of that whole first part- the author wasn’t putting down that football player, he was putting down the news establishments (i.e. society) for considering $9000 a big donation.

  8. #12 consider this quote:

    “and many balei tzedakkah who opened their doors on Purim gave much more than the $9,000 on that single night than this athlete did.”

    This is most certainly a knock on Mr. B.

  9. that quote is just saying how the 9000+ isn’t a big deal by us, but for them, a star athlete giving 9K is a big deal. I still fail to see the knock on the athlete himself. The author said it was generous on the athlete’s part. Are you such a big Keith Bullock fan anyway?
    (there, I said it)

  10. I think the knock is pretty darn obvious. Nothing more to talk about it if you can’t see it. And for better or worse, kids around this country look up to star athletes and it is a very nice thing when they take their time and money to promote academics.

    As for am I am Keith Bulluck fan? I am now after seeing the work he does. I think specializing in a niche area in the area you live in and the area you grew up in is commendable. The 9K is above and beyond the time and money he dedicates to his own foundation. And as a kid from a working class town, that $1000 will make a big difference for these kids. I imagine a lot of people who grew up in and live in urban areas don’t understand such because we live amongst more affluence than residents of Middle Tennessee.