Tzedakah is a Hebrew word which has a variety of translations. The most common is charity, but the root and related words mean justice or righteousness.
There are many traditions around giving tzedakah or charity. Some examples are contributing to a charity box each Shabbat or in religious school. Some families keep a box at home; some congregations keep a box at the entrance to the sanctuary. On the High Holidays, some congregations hold food drives. Donating at Purim is an old tradition.
In Hebrew, it is צדקה.
Maimonides listed 8 "degrees" of charity. The lowest is someone who gives, but unwillingly. The highest is when you help some one to be able to take care of him or herself.
Tikkun Olam, MAZON, American Jewish World Service
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