Stand up, make a difference

Posted on 07 June 2012 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Guess what? I’ve got a new book to recommend — not a surprise.

Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin has edited a new book published by Jewish Lights (if you are looking for interesting Jewish books for all ages, go to Jewish Lights Publishing) titled “Text Messages: A Torah Commentary for Teens.” Each parsha has two short commentaries written by a variety of people.

As soon as I got the book, I looked at the titles for the commentaries rather than go to the parsha of the week. Camp is fast approaching, and I was looking for messages to give our kids and counselors.

Our theme for this summer is “Be Out There.” That means more than just get outside (which is important enough and, of course, has Jewish implications). It means that we need to step up and do the right thing, challenge ourselves, reach out to others and so much more.

The subject of bullying is all over the press. For parents reading my column, you may read this as helpful parenting advice. But bullying doesn’t stop when you grow up — there are bullies all around us (and some may need to look inside as well).

The commentary that caught my eye was “No Such Thing as an Innocent Bystander” by Rabbi William G. Hamilton. The parsha is Shemot and the text he uses is: “The midwives, fearing God, did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live.” — Exodus 1:17.

The lesson is simple — when something is wrong, you must stand up against it even if you are scared. This story of Shiphrah and Puah’s courage shows us that even the most unlikely person can challenge cruelty.

Hamilton concludes, “The path to go from being a bystander to an upstander may not be easy, but it will be right. Bystanders are invisible. But like the heroines in Moses’ infancy who stood up for him, upstanders can change the world.”

Try it — it may be scary, but it is the right thing to do.

Laura Seymour is director of camping and youth services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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