Jews have been called the people of the book, and for a good reason. From an early age, we are instilled with a love of the written word. All truths can be found in books, and a fair amount of lies as well. Even centuries ago when illiteracy rates were very high, Jewish children were taught to read. Most Jews I know amass a large library of books. I once walked around my house and realized that in almost every room, I have hundreds of books - bedrooms, living room, hallways.
I have a cookbook collection with easily over 100 books; we have religious books, funny books, novels, dictionaries, encyclopedias and more. I'm a sucker for a book and a book sale. So, many months ago, when a friend came up with a brilliant idea for raising money for charity, I agreed to get involved. The concept is so simple, so brilliant.
I live in a country where the main language is Hebrew. For those of us who came here later in life with English as our mother tongue, we struggle to keep ourselves "in the book" - with enough to fill our time. I can't go to sleep at night without reading for a while. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and the fastest way to go back to sleep is to read for a while.
So - my brilliant friend came up with the brilliant idea that we swap books - for charity. We did the first one in my backyard and raised well over $1,000 in one night and all the money was immediately donated to charity. We did another a few months later and raised about twice that amount; and we did it again last night to the benefit of several local charities.
Here's how it works. You put out a call to your friends and neighbors - give me your old books, the stacks that have been sitting there, the books you've read and don't want, the extras. Thousands of books came pouring in.
Then, you put out a call in your community telling them about the event. For each book a person donated, they can take another one for some nominal fee (we charged 5 shekels or about $1.30 for each donated book swap and 10 shekels or about $2.60 per book if you didn't donate one to cover the swap). And, you announce that all the money is going to benefit charity. In this case, we chose several local charities - an organization that gives food and assistance to needy people, an organization that promotes English literacy among children, a youth camp for children from families that needed this extra attention, etc.).
And the results - once again, stagger us...
They came, they swapped, they appreciated it. For a people who love the book, the books were consumed. So, if you live in a place where people love to read and you want to raise money for a deserving cause, consider the Book Swap - and special kudos to Bat Aliyah - the inspiration, dedication, and drive behind this brilliant event (and a heck of a friend!).