The Hebrew word "tzedakah" derives from the biblical word "tzedek" meaning righteousness or justice. Helping those in need is not merely responding with sympathy or pity, but in Jewish tradition is a religious obligation.
Already established twenty centuries ago, each Jewish community created a fund for supporting the poor. The community leaders were in charge of the collection and distribution of tzedakah. In addition, many houses contained tzedakah boxes that supported both institutions and individuals. Coins were deposited by family members on the eve of every Sabbath. In addition, chanty boxes such as this have been used for centuries to collect coins anonymously throughout the syna¬gogue. In this way the monies could be distributed without either the giver or the recipient knowing the identity of the other.