10% to the Needy (Private-Religious)

9, 10, 11, 12

The purpose of this lesson is to teach learners how to give charity, to whom one should give charity, and to what extent/amount of charity is to be given. The lesson follows the examples and teachings of Maimonides (the Rambam) as well as interpretations and extensions of ancient Biblical laws.

PrintTwo - Fifty Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • identify the source and understand the concept of giving 10% of one’s earnings to charity.
  • understand the order of giving charity; first to one’s poor relatives, then to the needy of the town, and then to the needy of other towns.
  • identify and make application of this concept to modern day life.
  • participate in a Charity Expo.Teacher Note: This is a charity activity that includes the learner raising his/her own money, helping to select the organizations to receive the money, and deciding how to allocate the money to these selected organizations.
  • Lined paper
  • Poster board/Display Board
  • Black marker
Home Connection 

Open the charity expo to the entire school as well as to interested families so that each grade and family can participate on some level.



  1. Anticipatory Set:Distribute copies of Andrew Carnegie's Biography and read aloud with the class.Stimulate a class discussion about Andrew Carnegie and his philanthropy by posing several questions: Did Andrew Carnegie have a responsibility to give charity or was this just a nice thing for him to do? Why do you believe he gave so much to charity? Why do you think he chose public libraries as one of his biggest philanthropic projects? Do you think Andrew Carnegie gave too much money? How would you have done things differently if you were Andrew Carnegie?


  2. Distribute Attachment Two: Tithing Laws in the Bible to the class.

  3. Read the Tithing Laws and the explanations about giving 10%.

  4. Ask the learners if they believe 10% is too little or too much. Ask them why they believe this seemingly ancient Biblical practice, intended for crops, is a model for giving charity today (in Judaism and in many other religions)

  5. Distribute Attachment One: Rambam’s Circle of Charity

  6. Think of different organizations/charities that would fall under each circle. (i.e. for giving to family, this can include all Jews - as we are considered part of one family - for giving to our town might include helping community charity organizations before giving to national charity organizations.)

  7. Distribute pens/pencils and paper andarrange the class into five or six small groups.

  8. Ask each group to work together to draw their own circles and come up with organizations that would fit each circle - perhaps more than one for each. Tell them that they will be given a “pretend” pre-determined amount of money to allocate to their selected organizations. Teacher Note: It is suggested that a random net income (such as $100,000) be established for each group. Each group will then be asked to assign dollar contributions to each charity organization they selected (making sure that the total does not exceed 10% of the pre-determined established net income, or $10,000, in this case).

  9. Following this exercise,tell the learners that they will be given an opportunity to participate in a real-life act of charity called a Charity Expo. Explain that as a class they will be asked to raise their own money and as a class they will decide how to allocate that money between two charity organizations that they will identify keeping in mind to follow the Rambam’s Circle of Charity

  10. List all the charity organizations identified in the “pretend” exercise. Through discussion, reduce the number of these identified organizations to three or four and conduct a class vote to identify the top two organizations--keeping in mind the circles, i.e. giving to a Jewish organization over a national organization, giving to community rather than overseas charities.Teacher Note: In the end, the students should feel a sense of ownership over their two top choices, but the teacher may need to help guide the decision.

  11. Involve the class in helping to identify ways they might go about raising their money and write these suggestions on a poster board/display board. Encourage each learner to identify his/her own method of raising money and assign a “due date” at which time 10% of the money made by each individual is to be collected and contributed to the class total.Teacher Note: A time period of two-three weeks is suggested. However, this time span can be shortened or lengthened at teacher discretion.

  12. Once the money has been collected, utilize a class discussion to determine the percentage allocations of the total amount to be given to the two identified charity organizations. (i.e. 70% to the local Jewish organization and 30% to the American Lung Society)


Learners will be assessed based on their participation in class discussions and their active participation in the Charity Expo.

Cross Curriculum 

Ask the classto think of different ways to raise money for a charity organization, (i.e. donating 10% or more, a bake sale, a car wash, or a goods and services auction). The class should identify and ultimately select at least two charity organizations that will receive the money. Consideration for the selection of these organizations, are to be based upon Maimonides’ idea of who should receive charity.The class will present the money to the organizations and be able to articulate how and why they are chosen to donate to these organizations.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Give an example of individual philanthropic action that influenced national or world history.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark HS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
    2. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Build a case for giving, explaining why resources (volunteers and money) are needed.