Money & Meaning

The term ‘coffee date’ for me is often a euphemism for a meaningful conversation.  Coffee isn’t always involved and the conversation isn’t always 1:1.

I work with a number of internship programs on campus and for one of them, we gather every Tuesday night.  My plans were thrown out the window this week when a presumably quick report from one intern turned into a MUCH larger discussion about giving and receiving.  This intern had been on a conference panel, and had been asked a number of questions on what it means to be a Jewish college student.  He was struck by how many of the audience members wanted to know what responsibility college students – who have benefited from FREE Birthright trips, Shabbat dinners, coffee dates, & more – feel they have to ‘give back’ to the communities that have supported.

The conversation amongst the ten interns quickly grew spicy, ranging in opinions from feeling they should not be given gifts that come with obligations attached, to contemplating whether a small part of their newly earned paychecks should be given away to causes of meaning in their lives.

As a college student, do you think about how / when / if you should give?  How do you make choices about your money – and why might you be more inclined to spend $20 on a Saturday night but not on a cause you dedicate countless hours to supporting?

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