Cultivating young philanthropists: TJF’s B’nai Tzedek Youth Philanthropy Program

by | Feb 29, 2024 | Latest News, TJF

Tidewater Jewish Foundation’s B’nai Tzedek Youth Philanthropy Program instills the value of giving as early as birth. This innovative program teaches children and teenagers about philanthropy and how to actively participate in the process, shaping them into the community leaders of tomorrow.

Consider Stephanie and Paul Peck’s family, for example, where all three children, Jonathan, Audrey, and Caleb, participate in the program. Paul Peck says, “B’nai Tzedek has provided a tangible way for our children to connect with Jewish values of giving and community. Seeing their funds grow and being part of decision-making on where to allocate resources has been incredibly empowering for them.”

Jonathan, Stephanie, Caleb, Paul, and Audrey Peck.

Initially, decisions about donations were primarily influenced by Stephanie Peck’s involvement with Jewish Family Service. Their charitable focus diversified, however, as their children grew and became more involved in their respective communities, especially in college. Jonathan, Audrey, and Caleb started identifying with causes that resonated with their personal experiences, such as COVID-19 initiatives at their schools and supporting community programs. Peck says his children’s active involvement in philanthropy led to thoughtful discussions about transitioning from the B’nai Tzedek fund to a donor-advised fund, further cementing their understand-ing of philanthropy’s impact.

Similarly, Shikma Rubin, whose son Niv is a proud B’nai Tzedek participant, says, “We have always taught Niv the importance of tzedakah and mitzvot, but B’nai Tzedek has brought these concepts to life. He’s truly excited about making a difference.”

Niv Rubin, at just eight years old and in the third grade, joined the program inspired by the possibility of using his funds to support others. Participating in the program has reinforced Niv’s understanding and practice of Jewish values and enhanced the Rubin family’s focus on philanthropy and community service.

Rubin advises other parents to involve their children in philanthropic efforts early, emphasizing the importance of understanding the fund’s purpose, even at a young age.

Highlighting the program’s foundation in Jewish values, Naomi Limor Sedek, TJF president and CEO, says, “From birth to bar or bat mitzvah and beyond, our youth philanthropy programs are essential for nurturing a sense of communal responsibility and continuity in the Jewish community. It’s about building a bridge between generations and ensuring that our future is in capable, compassionate hands as we cultivate the philanthropists of tomorrow, today.”

To start in the B’nai Tzedek Youth Philanthropy Program, donate at least $250 to the Tidewater Jewish Foundation to establish a fund in a child’s name. TJF matches this with another $250 for a starting balance of $500. Continue with annual $250 gifts. By bar or bat mitzvah age, the child can grant 4% to a Jewish charity of their choice. When the fund reaches $5,000, it becomes a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) for ongoing philanthropy.

For more information, visit or contact Naomi Limor Sedek, TJF president and CEO, at or 757-965-6109.