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Prioritizing Tzedaka

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Question
I have recently been fortunate enough to win a small amount of money in my high school’s raffle and have decided to give it to a Jewish Israeli charity. As has happened every time i give tzedaka, i’m unsure which causes demand attention first. With so many needs in Israel and the Jewish world, I am wondering if there are Halachot relevant to prioritizing one’s tzedaka. I am considering a variety of Israeli charities dealing with Jewish education, security, medical assistance for the poor, settlements, etc., and would appreciate any advice on how one should come to a conclusion. Thanks for your time, and most of all, thanks for this service.
Answer
You should give priority to cases that are the most desperate- where pikuach nefesh may be involved and where there are not enough contributors to cover the need. If there is a choice among a number of equally severe cases, those local to you and those in Jerusalem come first. The most important thing is to give to a need that you are certain is genuine. If you read a recommendation from a well-known rabbi determine if the rabbi personally knows the case or whether he is basing himself on what someone told him. If necesssary, phone the person who wrote the recommendation yourself. Tizkeh Le'Mitzvot.
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