12/22/2014 Hillel Fall 2014

A Mission of Tzedakah

At the end of every semester, Hillel sends off each traveling student with a small token. Jewish tradition says that if someone is traveling for Tzedakah (social justice), no harm can come to him or her.  With that thought in mind we send a dollar with each student, and they are tasked with donating that dollar to a cause of their choice where they are studying. Below is a letter we received from Lauren Muliawan '16, who wrote about her experience with this dollar. 


At the end of this past spring semester F&M Hillel handed me a dollar to take with me on my journey to Scotland. The instructions were to give it to a cause that I felt was a worthy and noble one and that this would be F&M Hillel's way of helping everywhere their students travelled.

All summer I thought about that dollar. Who I would want to donate it to, and more pressingly, where had I placed it amongst the sea of things I seemed to need while abroad? When I touched down in Edinburgh I often thought about who I would want to donate it to. There are plenty of homeless here in the city, and I thought about giving it to a shelter. Still I was not sure. Then when it came time to intern at Scottish Parliament I figured I would find a cause. The research that I am currently involved in deals with the educational attainment gap of Scottish students, specifically at students with hearing disabilities and those considered looked after — foster care if you will. Still I was not entirely set.

However, Scottish Parliament brings in organizations every week in order to educate its members about various causes. This week happens to be Children's First. Started in NYC in 1884, they are an organization dedicated to preventing child abuse and providing services for children and families.

It was the kind of organization that I had wanted to find and give to. It sounds very cheesy writing this, but it reminded me of my sorority's philanthropy, Prevent Child Abuse America, and it was a little reminder of my sisterhood and also the principles and causes that I support in the States.

I had been telling my friends here about this dollar and the cause. After finally remembering to bring it with me to work, I told my little story to the volunteer today. I explained that I was given this dollar to give while I was abroad. She was somewhat confused at first and asked me what I wanted her to do with it. I explained that I was donating it to Children's First because although it was not that much I found their cause worthy, and she was speechless. She asked to see the envelope that I had kept the dollar in and even took my picture with it. She also said that they were going to frame it, and then she hugged me.

This experience has been one of the greatest things that has happened to me while here in Scotland and in Parliament. I wanted to share this with you and let you know that your charity was greatly appreciated by me and by this organization.

I am excited to return to Hillel and F&M very soon.

All my best,


  • Lauren Muliawan in Scotland
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