Nine Artists Reimagine Tzedakah Box for 21st Century

“Change” by Lily Feinberg, Washington, D.C.

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has announced the nine finalists for its design competition focused on philanthropy and social change. Where Do You Give? challenged artists to create a 21st century icon inspired by the values and imagery of the traditional Jewish tzedakah box.

In March, AJWS invited the general public to vote on 70 Where Do You Give? submissions. The organization collected over 8,500 votes online and announced the three “People’s Choice” winners on its website earlier this month.

Following the public voting process, a panel of judges from the arts, design and Jewish communities met to select the six remaining finalists.

Each of the nine finalists will receive a $250 prize and will be featured in a national mobile tour hosted in galleries, synagogues and various communal spaces. The three grand prize winners, to be announced on May 15th, will receive $2,500 and a trip to visit AJWS’s grassroots partners in the Americas, Africa or Asia.

“These nine artists blew my mind and the tops off of the pushke boxes I grew up with,” said AJWS president Ruth Messinger. “These designs beg all of us to think about the enormous impact our charitable dollars have on communities in need all over the world. And, more importantly, they offer thrilling new ideas about making giving a part of our everyday lives – whether it’s at the grocery store, in the kitchen, on our phones or in public spaces.

“Many of the submissions were conceived in an effort to cut through the morass of what people look at every day and focus their attentions on giving. One entry is a large public installation that cleverly plays with the meaning of the word “change” and another seeks to elevate the grocery shopping experience so that people can understand and engage with issues related to their everyday purchases.

“Looking at these pieces of art gives me great hope that a new generation of globally conscious designers are celebrating the critical role that tzedakah plays in today’s world and that the next generation of Jews will both give and talk about giving. Working for justice depends on re-imagining the possibilities for this work. It requires that we take a good, hard look at the values that animate our philanthropic choices.”

You can view submissions from the finalists here.