In 2009, two rabbinical students, Rabbi Lisa Delson (left) and Rabbi Anna Levin Rosen (right), from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, submitted the first ever web-based Rabbinic Capstone entitled “Thinking Outside of the Tzedakah Box: A Resource on Fundraising and Philanthropy for Rabbis and Jewish Professionals.” Thinkingtzedakah.org provides a myriad of resources to engage in discussions on fundraising and philanthropy in a congregational setting. The project is comprised of three parts; online video interviews with some of the most successful rabbis and fundraising professionals from coast to coast, an intense look at traditional Jewish sources on tzedakah and issues of economic justice, and a resource for Jewish professionals seeking advice and teaching tools surrounding fundraising.
The goal of the project is clearly stated on the front page of the website, "We recognize that rabbis and Jewish professionals face the challenge of linking fundraising with the values of our tradition. Therefore, the goal of this project is to support rabbis in the field as they perform the mitzvah of encouraging tzedakah.” Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, participated in our learning by providing us with an interview as well as supporting our travel to New York and Los Angeles to meet with rabbis and Jewish professionals who share our passion of fundraising as tool for building community. Dr. Samuel Joseph and Dr. Jonathan Cohen co-advised this capstone and encouraged us to break the mold of what a rabbinic thesis could be and think outside of the box. For more information please visit http://www.thinkingtzedakah.org.