Taking responsibility

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

One of the most important values that we must all practice is responsibility. Responsibility — achrayut — is so important, for it is really all about community and being a part of something bigger than just yourself. We are all interdependent in this world and that connection makes us strong. This month as we commemorated Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron, we were reminded of our responsibility to others.

Shortly after World War II — not long after his release from a Nazi concentration camp — German Protestant theologian Pastor Martin Niemoller said, “In Germany, they first came for the communists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Catholic. Then they came for me. And by that time, there was no one left to speak up.” Each of us must speak out for the others — we are responsible for one another: Am I my brother’s keeper? YES!

It is always our responsibility to come together as a community — in times of sorrow and in times of joy. Just as we mourned together on Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron, we also celebrated Yom HaAtzmaut together.

Responsibility, achrayut, is also about taking accountability for your own actions and choices. Responsibility is about keeping our promises, being honest and fair, admitting our mistakes and showing our willingness to make things right.

Those who think they can lie without others are wrong. But those who think that others can survive without them are even more in error. —Hasidic Folk Saying

In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings. —Ann Landers

Laura Seymour is Jewish experiential learning director and camp director emeritus at the Aaron Family JCC.

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