Danny Siegel

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Danny Siegel is an American author, lecturer, and poet who has spoken in more than 500 North American communities, to communal organizations, synagogues, JCC's, Federations, on Tzedakah and Jewish values. "Tzedakah" is loosely translated as 'charity' or 'charitable giving', though a better translation is 'righteous giving'

Siegel is often referred to as "The World's Greatest Expert on Microphilanthropy", "The Feeling Person's Thinker", and "The Pied Piper of Tzedakah", and most recently as "A Pioneer Of Tzedakah" by the New York Jewish Week editor and publisher, Gary Rosenblatt.[1]


Siegel founded the Ziv Tzedakah Fund in 1981 after making several trips to Israel carrying money to be distributed to those in need. Jewish tradition teaches that anyone on a mission of good deeds will be saved from harm, and so, on each trip, Siegel followed this age-old custom and asked friends and relatives for a dollar or two to give away to Tzedakah upon his arrival in the Holy Land.

Once in Israel, Siegel went in search of "the Good People" (he refers to them as "Mitzvah Heroes"), ordinary Israelis who were doing extraordinary work, by simply in trying to make the world a better place. Within a short time, he learned of the efforts of such people as Hadassah Levi, who made her life's work the rescue of abandoned babies with Down Syndrome from hospitals, Myriam Mendilow, who found Jerusalem's poor, elderly residents on the streets of the city and gave them respect and new purpose in her program, Yad L'Kashish (Lifeline for the Old), or Uri Lupolianski, a young teacher who started Israel's now famous lending program, Yad Sarah, in his living room.

He has found these "Mitzvah heroes" in countless places around the world. And his challenge to everyone is that he "wants to turn ordinary people into superheroes".[2]

Siegel works with over 100 such altruists around the world. He "has a stable of everyday, real-life Mitzvah heroes, young and old, with projects ranging from the ordinary to the unusual".[3]

After returning from his first trip, Siegel issued a four-page report to all of his donors in which he described all of the places that he had distributed their Tzedakah money. From that first $955 Siegel collected and gave away, Ziv has grown to an organization that in 2007 completed its 32nd year of operation and has distributed more than $14,000,000 primarily to small programs and projects in both Israel and the United States. (In 2006, over $2,000,000 was given away to people in need; and the same for 2007-8). Siegel has decided to retire from the active running of Ziv Tzedakah Fund, and Ziv has closed its doors as of December 2008. Siegel influenced thousands of people with his unique tzedakah and mitzvah philosophy. With the closing of Ziv Tzedakah Fund in 2008, Siegel identified several other organizations in his final report to donors. All of these groups operate in a similar manner as Ziv and they include Hands on Tzedakah, the Mitzvah Heroes Fund, started by Siegel's students (Steve Kerbel, Bill Begal, and Mary Meyerson) and continues Siegel's long-standing tradition of employing someone in Israel, on the ground choosing Arnie Draiman as the Director for Israel Projects Draiman worked for Siegel for over 15 years and continues to work closely with him today);[4] KAVOD, Tzedakah Fund, Inc., To Save A Life Foundation and The Good People Fund.[5] His approach to Tzedakah "offers a no frills, no red tape way to help those in need", according to the San Diego Jewish Journal.[6]

Siegel has a B.S. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University's School of General Studies, and a Bachelor's and Master's of Hebrew Literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

He is one of three recipients of the prestigious 1993 Covenant Award for Exceptional Jewish Educators.

Literary career[edit]

Siegel is the author of 29 books on such topics as practical and personalized giving, healing and humor, and has produced an anthology of 500 selections of Biblical and Talmudic quotes about living life called Where Heaven and Earth Touch. Siegel is also a poet and several of his published books are poetry.

Published works[edit]

Tzedakah, Mitzvahs, Tikkun Olam, and Jewish Values[edit]

For Children[edit]

Midrash and Halachah[edit]

  • Where Heaven and Earth Touch: An Anthology of Midrash and Halachah; Book One, 1983; Large Print Edition, 1985, Book Two, 1984, Book Three, 1985
  • Where Heaven and Earth Touch: Combined Books One‑Three, 1988, ISBN 0-940653-09-5
  • Where Heaven and Earth Touch: Hardback edition, 1989; Soft cover, 1995 (Jason Aronson publishers), ISBN 978-0-87668-864-9
  • Source Book: Selected Hebrew and Aramaic Sources, 1985


  • From the Heart, 2012
  • Soulstoned, 1969
  • And God Braided Eveʹs Hair, 1976
  • Between Dust and Dance (with prose), 1978
  • Nine Entered Paradise Alive, 1980
  • Unlocked Doors: The Selected Poems of Danny Siegel 1969‑1983, 1983
  • The Lord Is A Whisper at Midnight: Psalms and Prayers, 1985
  • The Garden, Where Wolves and Lions Do No Harm to the Sheep and Deer, 1985
  • Before Our Very Eyes: Readings for a Journey Through Israel, 1986
  • The Meadow Beyond the Meadow, 1991, ISBN 0-940653-30-3
  • Hearing Heart, 1992, ISBN 0-940653-33-8



  • The Unorthodox Book of Jewish Records and Lists (co‑authored with Allan Gould), 1982, ISBN 978-0-88830-222-9


  1. ^ Rosenblatt, Gary (January 2, 2008). "A Pioneer Of Tzedakah Steps Down". New York Jewish Week. Retrieved 2008-04-11. 
  2. ^ "Speaker to reveal finding 'mitzvah' people". The Augusta Chronicle. May 2, 1998. Retrieved 2008-04-11.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  3. ^ Caplane, Ronnie (September 19, 1997). "Mitzvah maven Danny Siegel ready to raid Dumpsters". Jewish News Weekly of Northern California. Retrieved 2008-04-11. 
  4. ^ Kredo, Adam (November 19, 2008). "Great to give out money' Mitzvah Heroes Fund carries on where Ziv Tzedakah Fund left off". Washington Jewish Week. Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  5. ^ Levy, Natalie (August 7, 2008). "New chapter for champion of grassroots tzedaka". New Jersey Jewish News. Retrieved 2009-12-08. 
  6. ^ Fisch, Alexandra (January 4, 2004). "The original mitzvah hero". San Diego Jewish Journal. Archived from the original on 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2008-04-11. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Karesh, Sara E.; Mitchell M. Hurvitz (2005). "Siegel, Danny (b. 1944) American writer and lecturer". Encyclopedia of Judaism. Infobase Publishing. p. 480. ISBN 978-0-8160-6982-8. 

External links[edit]