Charity is a fundamental part of the Jewish way of life.
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Traditional Jews give at least ten percent of their income to charity. Traditional Jewish homes commonly have a pushke, a box for collecting coins for the poor, and coins are routinely placed in the box. Jewish youths are continually going from door to door collecting for various worthy causes. A standard mourner's prayer includes a statement that the mourner will make a donation to charity in memory of the deceased. In many ways, charitable donation has taken the place of animal sacrifice in Jewish life: giving to charity is an almost instinctive Jewish response to express thanks to G-d, to ask forgiveness from G-d, or to request a favor from G-d. According to Jewish tradition, the spiritual benefit of giving to the poor is so great that a beggar actually does the giver a favor by giving a person the opportunity to perform tzedakah.
Business Week's 2006 list of The 50 Most Generous Philanthropists includes at least 15 Jews. In other words, Jews, who are only about 2% of the American population, are 30% of America's most generous donors. Similarly, a 2003 study (reported in the Jewish Journal) found that 24.5% of all "mega-donors" (people who donate more than $10 million a year to charity) are Jewish. Nor is Jewish generosity limited to Jewish causes: while a few of the Jews in BW's "Top 50" list Jewish causes among their primary charitable targets, most don't. Indeed, the Jewish Journal article laments the fact that the overwhelming majority of those Jewish mega-donations aren't going to specifically Jewish causes.