The heroes in our lives

A very important word (and idea) in Hebrew is “giborim — heroes.” As we prepare for camp, we know that for many children their counselors are heroes — they look up to these teenagers who are doing the day-to-day experience of being a hero. Today more than ever, our children need heroes in their lives, and we have great heroes throughout our Jewish tradition. We read of the heroes of the Purim story and then the heroes in the Passover story. Judaism is filled with heroes — and none were perfect. We wonder if we would have the courage and strength to step forward and save others. Sometimes we become unlikely heroes. You will never know until you step up!

Think about the giborim in your lives — who were the role models and mentors who changed your life. For most of us, our first heroes were our parents and family, then we expanded our world as we grew to include Biblical heroes and historical heroes. As we enter summer, camp will be a part of our children’s lives and those camp counselors will be their heroes and role models. One goal as parents is to help our children find heroes in Jewish tradition, as well as to BE the Jewish heroes in their lives.

With your children, talk about heroes — use the word “giborim” — share who your Jewish heroes are today and why. Here are some great questions for your Shabbat dinner time:

  • Do heroes need to be perfect? Why or why not?
  • What do we look for in role models? Can we have many mentors?
  • How can we be a role model? For whom? What do you need to know to be a role model?
  • Why is it important to know about Jewish heroes?
  • Does a person have to be Jewish or do something for Jewish people to be a Jewish hero?
  • Are Jewish heroes just models for us in the Jewish part of our lives?

Let us keep in our minds those throughout the world who are waiting and hoping for a hero to step up, and let us find a way to take heroic steps each day.

Laura Seymour is Camp director emeritus and Jewish Experiential Learning director at the Aaron Family JCC.

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