Piecing Together the Puzzle
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.1 Give examples of philanthropic traditions of diverse cultures.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.

A concept known in Hebrew as tikkun olam practices the idea that everyone must play a role in perfecting the world. Modeling the concept of tikkun olam as a collaborative effort helps youth understand that they can shape their surroundings.

PrintOne 50-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • define tikkun olam and philanthropy.
  • collaborate on an effort to practice tikkun olam.
  • copies of traditional texts regarding tikkun olam (see handouts below)
  • Large self stick notes
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Explain that there is a Jewish concept of tikkun olam which requires everyone to help perfect the world. Define tikkun olam as acts of loving kindness to repair or perfect the world. Tikkun Olam is an example of philanthropy – giving time, talent, or treasure, and taking action for the common good.

  2. Share text from Leviticus 19:16 and related commentary regarding tikkun olam (see handout below).

  3. Reinforce that it is each person’s responsibility to leave the world a little better. Ask the young people to think of three small actions they can personally take to make the world a little better. Distribute sticky notes for brainstorming at least three ideas each. Have them note if the idea is an example of giving of their time, talent, or treasure. Put their notes on a chart and organize into groups of like ideas. Expand on their ideas together. 

    Discuss that tikkun olam is a collaborative effort made up of all people working on repairing the world together. A single action is a small part of a collective effort that can make a difference, if we each fulfill our responsibility.

  4. Introduce the text from Pirkei Avot (see handout below). Give youth time to answer the question on the handout.Discuss their reflections. 

    After hearing their thoughts, explain that Rabbi Tarfon is talking about the task of serving God and perfecting the world. He is saying that there is a lot to be done and each person has a limited amount of time to do it. He concludes that it is no single person’s responsibility to perfect the entire world, but everyone must do whatever they can. Note: Pirkei Avot, translated as Ethics of Our Fathers, is a compilation of sayings by rabbis during the Mishnaic era regarding ethics.

  5. Compare this concept to a jigsaw puzzle in which every piece is small but of fundamental importance for finishing the task. So too, every kind act that a person does is of fundamental importance because, when put together, these acts perfect the world.