What does the story of Passover teach us about giving courageously?
As we move into Passover, I’m happy to share these moving words from Amplifier’s Program and Communications Associate, Arielle Brender. All of us on the Amplifier team wish you and your loved ones a healthy and joyful holiday, and may you be inspired by Arielle to be like Nahshon and take action to move forward at a difficult time.
Dear Amplifier community,
Last week, as the reality of sheltering-in-place began to sink in as the absurd new normal, I received an email from Natasha Harrison, founder of For Her: A Black Women Giving Movement for Black Girls. She said: “As with most ‘unknowing’ situations, I am leaning on and wondering about my ancestors: how they moved forward facing the most unimaginable atrocity.” Natasha’s words have grounded me each day since then. And, now, in the days leading up to Passover, her words remind me of the Passover story.
Passover is an 8-day holiday that, in equal parts, commemorates our enslavement in Egypt and celebrates our exodus from it. It’s celebrated by practicing rituals that allow us to viscerally experience the bitterness, sweetness, comfort, and discomfort of that time. We recount the story of Passover, year after year, in order to remember what our ancestors went through, so that we can honor their plight and learn from their actions.
Natasha Harrison’s note reminded me to ask myself: what can the stories of Passover teach me about generosity, especially in times such as this one, when there is so much fear and uncertainty?
I think the midrash of Nahshon is the perfect one for this time. As the story goes, when the Israelites reached the Red Sea after leaving Egypt, they were sandwiched between the sea before them and the Egyptian army behind them. Unable to determine which fate could offer them a greater chance of survival, they collectively hesitated, riddled with the type of despair that can only come from feeling trapped and being unsure of one's fate.
But Nahshon charged forward into the sea. Just as he was about to become entirely submerged, the sea parted, and the Israelites had a passage of escape from their persecutors. It was Nahshon’s courage to act, despite a lack of clarity in what his courage might bring, that carried the Jewish people to survival.
Right now, as I consider how I can and should give, I am channeling Nahshon, as the following questions pass through me:
How can I give now, even if I don’t know the outcome?
How can I do the right thing in order to help those in need and honor my ancestors, whose bravery allowed me to be here today?
How can I give more than I initially think I can, while still being financially responsible?
In the spirit of Nahshon’s action-oriented approach, we’re offering tools to help you combat the “analysis paralysis” you might be experiencing as you decide where to give. Check out our COVID-19 giving guide, and if you need additional resources, we have compiled a list here.
Program & Communications Associate
4 Books to Read or Listen to Right Now
Are you looking for a book about giving to listen to or read? Amplifier’s Business Operations Manager Zoë Barth-Werb compiled a list of 4 books to help you focus on giving at a time when so much else calls for our attention. Let us know if you give any of them a read!
Reading the news can generate some major anxiety and confusion. If you’re looking to switch gears and read something inspiring, check out the amazing leaders we’ve profiled so far in our Humans of Amplifier campaign. We’ve been returning to these stories from Amy Schilit Benarroch, Ross Berkowitz, and Muhi Khwaja to feel grounded in giving.
In case you missed it: Op-Eds from Liz Fisher and Felicia Herman
In recent weeks, op-eds from both Liz Fisher, Amplifier CEO, and Felicia Herman, founder and Board Chair of Amplifier and Executive Director of the Natan Fund were released.
Liz's piece is about the potential we all hold to become the philanthropists we admire, and Felicia's piece offers a harrowing peek into what the COVID-19 crisis has in store for nonprofits that shape our lives, and what everyday givers can do to cushion the blow.
Together, these pieces remind us why philanthropy is essential, and for everyone.
Check out our new website!
We’re excited to announce that we’ve given our website a major makeover!
There are some changes:
Our website is streamlined, so it's easier than before to find what you're looking for!
The stories pages, which showcase people giving in innovative ways, are more dynamic than ever.
To add or edit your giving circle profile on our website, fill out this form, which is located at the top and bottom of the giving circles page.
We invite you to explore our new site, and let us know if you have any questions about our offerings or giving circle management tools.