Tamchui is an annual tzedakah tradition at The Rashi School that takes place at the Purim holiday, a customary time for giving in the Jewish calendar. Tamchui is a two-week schoolwide philanthropy project that engages students in meaningful social justice learning and action and helps them become educated and empathetic young philanthropists. Students spend the first week learning about several local, national, and international organizations that benefit children. During the second week, they choose how to allocate their five “chips” among the organizations. Since 1997, the Rashi community has contributed over $100,000 to more than 65 charitable organizations through Tamchui.
The following Purim reflections were written by Josie W., a Rashi eighth grader.
I have been at Rashi for nearly nine years and, each year, I have experienced and been a part of Tamchui. Tamchui falls the week prior to Purim, the Jewish festival where we are commanded to be happy.
For the first couple of years, I did not fully comprehend the mission and what the organizations stood for. I simply knew some facts, and allocated my chips based on trivial things, such as where my friends were placing theirs, or whether I enjoyed an activity that the organization was supporting, for instance, art. As the years passed, I gained more and more understanding of the organization’s we were supporting and more importantly, why these particular organizations were selected. And then I realized something that displeased me. In my mind and opinion, since we students were allocating chips based on funds donated by our parents, we were not truly invested in this act of tzedek, or justice. Additionally, it seemed that we were involved with the organizations for merely a week, when they came to ask us for money, and then had no further connection.
This was my opinion until recently, when I interviewed a representative from one of this year’s organizations. During the interview, I realized that Tamchui was more than that. My chips would bring a Jewish soldier supplies to celebrate Shabbat, Hanukah, and other major holidays. Perhaps doing these familiar rituals will allow a soldier who is serving our country to regain some sense of stability to be regained and to foster relations with other Jews, who compose a minute minority of the military. We as students are able to witness the change that our donations had generated, and the change that my chips allowed to happen.
As part of the Rashi student body, I helped give an impoverished child who has failed to thrive because of a lack of food the opportunity to grow and be a child. I allowed another disabled individual to improve his/her quality of life through sailing. Many more positive transformations, both large and small, can be attributed to Rashi’s generous and meaningful donations. My perspective also changed on how I previously believed that our connection with the organizations ended after the one week. I now recognize that our chips have lasting meaning. With the organization Save a Child’s Heart, we have not only repaired that one child’s heart for a week, but for a lifetime, for one more laugh, one more smile, one more chance to go and repair the world.