The story of Noah and the ark was just read from the Torah in synagogues around the world, and another type of ark has now become a symbol for people who are doing something good and creating a better world.

South Africa’s “ark campaign” is a charitable initiative created by Miracle Drive—a division of Chabad in Johannesburg—that has people putting money into a bright-yellow tzedakah (charity) box shaped like an ark. Once the box is filled, the money is emptied and given to others less fortunate.

The initial campaign has met with unimagined success, and organizers now hope to distribute more than 1 million charity boxes.


“The campaign is not about fundraising. It is not about money. It is simply about getting people to increase in acts of goodness and kindness,” explains Rabbi David Masinter, director of the Chabad House of Johannesburg and the affiliated Miracle Drive organization.

Promotional materials related to the initiative include these words and ideas: “Right now, the world seems awash in conflict, misery and malice. Let’s get hope floating again …

The campaign has caught on in South Africa, with the rabbi having to manufacture more and more of the ark-shaped boxes. A spate of media publicity also helped.
The campaign has caught on in South Africa, with the rabbi having to manufacture more and more of the ark-shaped boxes. A spate of media publicity also helped.

“We don’t have to agree on everything, but we can agree that we all want a world filled with goodness and kindness. And we have the power to make this happen simply by creating our own positive momentum.

“There are tens of thousands of arks ... waiting to be collected, filled and paid forward. “If enough people do this, we will start a wave of goodwill that will wash over the negativity that seems to be gripping us right now.”

A Reaction to the Negative

The campaign was launched in August as a reaction to negative news worldwide—from Israel’s summer war with Hamas in Gaza to the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, and the growth of Islamic extremism in the Middle East and around the world.

Masinter says that initially, some 60,000 units were manufactured, which he and those involved with the effort thought would be a challenge to distribute. But a flurry of immediate press helped immensely, including articles on one of South Africa’s major online news sources, IOL News, and in The Star newspaper.

“After we sent out a letter to the community, The Star wrote an article and did an editorial on the campaign, which rapidly increased the momentum. Thus, we changed the goal to 100,000 units. Yet as the campaign keeps snowballing, the goal post has moved once again, and now we’re targeting 1 million!”

A number of South African celebrities, businesspeople and entertainers have also gotten behind the campaign and appear in a YouTube video announcing the program.

While many charity-based fundraisers are quick to say how much money they’ve raised, Masinter can’t pinpoint even an approximate number. In fact, he doesn’t even know where the accumulated cash in the full boxes has gone.

And that’s just the point.

Says the rabbi: “We just want them to give it to a charity or to someone less fortunate than themselves. It doesn’t matter who.”