Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam

Contributed by Kay Lorraine

It has been my understanding that the root of tzedakah means justice or righteousness. Therefore, acts of tzedakah can be used to generate a more just world. Sometimes, one performs tzedakah as much to heal themselves as to perform tikkun olam. I confess to being one of those people.

I have been absent from shul lately. Sometimes you reach a crossroads that you didn’t see coming. Or maybe you did, but you chose to ignore it. My internal sense of justice has been crushed and, unfortunately, I am legally prevented from talking about it. Nonetheless, I am left wondering what I am doing on this planet. What is my purpose?

For the past two weeks, I have been in talks with the executive director of a major nonprofit in Texas that is working on reuniting the children who have been taken from their immigrant families. I have had several careers in my lifetime. Professional singer, film producer, nonprofit executive, and now the law. It is the last two that I will be using on this journey.

By the time you read this, I will have gone to Texas for an indefinite period of time to work pro bono for this nonprofit. We will be working to post bail for immigrant families whose children have been taken from them, and then we will help to locate their children, reuniting the families. It will not be easy.

My boss at Greg Ryan & Associates, who is the nicest boss in history, has given me his blessing to take a leave of absence for as many months as I need with the promise that my job at the law office is secure when I return. My husband, aka Mr. Wonderful, is fully supportive of my need to do this. He has also promised me a lifetime job of unlimited cleaning, ironing, and cooking when I return.

I wish I spoke Spanish. Unfortunately, I come from a generation that mandated that if you were in a “college preparatory program” you were forced to take Latin, a language that has been, trust me on this, completely useless in my life. Although I don’t speak Spanish, I do speak federal government paperwork and I am a certified grant writer. As a former nonprofit executive, I know how to marshal volunteers. I cannot practice law in Texas, but I have a juris doctorate and I can do research and paperwork.

Repairing the world is our job. Tzedakah is my job. I will probably be sleeping on the office floor in a sleeping bag, which is just fine by me. Or maybe I’ll find a Motel 6 in the area. I’ll work it out. I’m not concerned about that.

Texas in July – now THAT I’m concerned about. Talk about meshuggina…LOL!