A new online bar mitzvah student came to me to begin his learning journey and I shared with him and his family that’s it’s the Jewish holiday of Purim this week. He was so interested to learn about a theme of the Jewish holiday as he didn’t remember anything about it from his time at a Hebrew school. He was excited to begin his Jewish education with me and also learn how to sing his Torah portion for his bar mitzvah ceremony.
In the book of Esther, Queen Esther had the courage to stand up for what she believed in – by telling the King she was Jewish and standing up for all the Jewish people, she prevented the wicked Haman’s plan to kill all the Jews.
I asked my student – have you ever had the courage to stand up for something you really believed in ?
I shared with him that some years ago on my baseball team, we had one black player. Some kids on my team said some awful things to his face that were so cruel and hurtful. I wouldn’t let that continue. Even though I was new on the team, I called a team meeting and told the whole team that I never want to hear those awful words again – including the N word. That on this team, we don’t look at color or religion, we look at effort – and we never judge people or say hurtful things to each other based on race or religion. I chose this approach rather than telling the coach. I was glad I did it this way – it had more impact coming from me, a fellow player.
From that day on, the black player was never disrespected again and he and I are still great friends all these years later. I asked my student – I would like to know if you have ever been in a situation where you had the courage to stand up for yourself or for someone else – what was the situation, and how did it turn out?
My online bar mitzvah student told me that one time at school I was hanging out with my friends and we played basketball. On of my friends fouled my other friend and got into a fight. Later in the fight one of the friends made fun of the other friends eye saying “are you blind. Never mind you are in on of you eyes.” The friend who said was making fun of my other friend since he used to have eye cancer but it recently came back. Me and my other friend stood up for him and the kid who made fun of him went away and didn’t make fun of him every again.
I praised my student for being brave and courageous and for standing up for what’s right. These are the life lessons that my students learn at CoolCantor as part of their online Jewish education.