The Goldberg Family Early Childhood Center at the Aaron Family JCC celebrates a different Jewish value each month. Not only are each of our values important ones, but they also help us learn how we should act and connect us with our history.
Our value for this month is “courage — ometz lev.” The most interesting thing about the Hebrew phrase is that it translates as “strength of heart.” It is not just about being strong in a physical way but doing the right thing when it is hard. More than that, it is also about doing something new and different.
Here are a few sections from an article titled “Giving Ourselves Permission to Take Risks” by Elizabeth Jones. The article was written primarily for early childhood, but it is really a message for all of us.
“Courage, as we’ve learned from the Cowardly Lion (from The Wizard of Oz), is a virtue that is hard to sustain. New experiences are often scary; we don’t know what will happen next or what we should do. Yet all new learning involves risk. We learn by doing — and by thinking about the past and the future.
“Risk is inevitable; it’s a requirement for survival. The challenge is to name it, practice it, enjoy the rush of mastery and bear the pain when pain is the outcome.
“A child who climbs may fall. But a child who never climbs is at much greater risk. Fall surfaces under climbers aren’t there to prevent falls, only to make them less hard. And hugging doesn’t make the pain go away, but it does make it more bearable.”
We chose this value as we get ready for Purim. We go beyond the great fun of the holiday with dressing up, giving gifts and tzedakah, plus telling the story to much noise of our graggers. There is the important message of “ometz lev — courage” that Queen Esther must display.
Having courage does not mean that you are not afraid, but that you must step up and do the right thing (and sometimes the scary thing) even when you are afraid. As you plan your costume and your gifts, think about doing something that scares you — it will help you grow.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas.