By Chaya Nessa Krycer
Have any of you looked at your paycheck in bewilderment, wondering how in the world you can possibly pay all your required ma’aser (charity)? Do you have an abundance of loose cash that you wish to use for the improvement of the Dallas community, but are unsure how to proceed? Perhaps you wish to start a tzedakah in memory of a loved one, but don’t have enough initiative to establish it? If these questions keep you up at night, turn off the light and go back to sleep, as your anxiety is entirely needless. The DJCF is only a phone call away.
Now, I am certain that many of you are scratching your heads, wondering what am I driving at? Have no fear, an explanation is forthcoming. DJCF stands for the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation. Contrary to popular belief (or at least my initial assumption), the DJCF is not a charity organization that fundraises to help the community. Rather, its primary goal is to facilitate other people’s charities. Its mission is to help further charity, by acting as the middleman between an individual or agency, and the community.
For example, if a person wishes to establish a fund in the memory of a family member, all they need to do is contact the DJCF. The DJCF will undertake all the leg work, such as having discussions with lawyers, scanning possible recipients, etc. All requirements the donor requests will be heeded unless they oppose Jewish values. As the DJCF’s Director of Philanthropic Advancement, Mona Allen states, “Our moral compass is the Torah.”
At this point, a portion of my readership is inspired, eager to pool their liquid assets into the implementation of a brand new, freshly minted tzedakah fund. However, the remainder is disconcerted. They sadly shake their heads, realizing that they are unable to seize this wonderful opportunity. It may be hard to imagine, but not everyone has $2,000,000 loosely floating, practically minding its own business in a nice, cozy bank account in Switzerland! So how can this outstanding organization be of service to you? In short–it can.
Even if you cannot create a new fund to help fellow Jews in the Dallas area, you can take part in the DJCF by applying for a scholarship. Every year, the DJCF makes available an abundance of scholarships to help Jewish students attend college or summer camp.
The college scholarships are not given based solely on need. Rather, they are bestowed on students who have the most potential and ability to achieve greatness. In fact, that is what is truly special about these scholarships. You don’t have to be the class valedictorian to receive one. The DJCF looks for students who are well rounded and who are making a difference by improving the world around them. Therefore, the student receiving a scholarship must show his/her potential based on academics, financial need, and community service.
Another benefit of the DJCF is that the process is entirely confidential. The committee who decides the winners for the scholarships do not call references to receive more background information on the student. They do not even know the applicants’ names when arguing back and forth on who is the most deserving of the scholarship. This way, there is no possibility for special preferences or embarrassment. (The scholarship list can be found at www.djcf.org)
Camp scholarships are chosen with a contrasting view in mind. Instead of merit, Jewish students can receive sleep away camp scholarships based solely on need. Naturally, there is the same element of secrecy for both the members of the committees and the applicants themselves.
To sum it up, the DJCF has something for everyone. But it cannot be successful because of its selflessness and charity alone. As Mona Allen, DJCF Director of Philanthropic Advancement says, “Our agency cannot raise money to be successful… Hopefully, we will always have a source for helping people in the community.” We can contribute to its success by spreading awareness for this praiseworthy organization. By doing so, we are ensuring that the gift of giving continues. When Hashem sees how much we care for helping each other, how much more will He want to go the extra mile to help us.