I Never Give To Beggars — Am I a Bad Jew?

Dear Bintel Brief,

Hardly a day goes by without homeless and less fortunate people begging on the transit system. They ask for money and sometimes food, and I feel sorry for them, but never give to them, or engage at all. I value tzedakah, I volunteer and give to numerous charities, but I’m conflicted about giving to these people because frankly, I’m unsure what they’re going do with my hard-earned money.

Does this make me a bad person? Or a bad Jew?

Yours,

Closed Pockets

STEVE ALMOND RESPONDS:

Steve Almond is the author the story collections “My Life in Heavy Metal” and “The Evil B.B. Chow,” the novel “Which Brings Me to You” (with Julianna Baggott), and the non-fiction books “Candyfreak” and “(Not That You Asked).” His most recent book, “Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life,” came out in Spring 2010. He is also, crazily, self-publishing books. “This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey,” is composed of 30 very brief stories, and 30 very brief essays on the psychology and practice of writing. “Letters from People Who Hate Me” is just plum crazy. Both are available at readings. In 2011, Lookout Press will publish his story collection, “God Bless America.”

If you have a question for the Bintel Brief, email bintelbrief@forward.com. Selected letters will be published anonymously. New installments of the Bintel Brief, featuring Steve Almond, will be published Mondays at www.forward.com.

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I Never Give To Beggars — Am I a Bad Jew?

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