Tell the Stories of Today’s Jewish Heroes

May 20, 2013 3:17 pm 3 comments

Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. Photo: David Shankbone.

Every week I spend time in the library with my children, often reading the biographies of different heroes. It is easy to find biographies of “heroes” from our generation – From Michael Jordan to Lebron James, Madonna to Bill Clinton, walk through any library and you will see plenty of biographies of modern personalities.  Many of them are still alive.

In our era in which the assimilation rate  of American Jewry is around 60%, one might ask who the Jewish heroes for people of this generation are? Who can today’s American Jew look to as a role model? It is not an easy question to answer for those who grow up in the ‘80’s, ‘90′s, and ‘00’s – for whom living (well-known) Jewish heroes and role models could be helpful.

Undoubtedly within the Orthodox world there are Rabbis in the community who are well respected –assimilation amongst the Orthodox is less of a concern. And let’s accept and keep in mind the study by Steven Cohen of Hebrew Union College and Ari Kelman of the University of California at Davis which  showed that “non-Orthodox younger Jews, on the whole, feel much less attached to Israel than their elders,” with many professing “a near-total absence of positive feelings..” towards Judaism.

Indeed if one is not connected to Israel, can attending services on the High Holidays be enough to capture a positive feeling for Judaism?  Wouldn’t positive Jewish role models encourage more members of this constituency to remain in the fold?

Perhaps there should be more of an emphasis on highlighting the stories of the heroes of this generation as a means to inspire more young American Jews.  For example, the greatness of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson of Chabad – a holy man who died in 1994 who is universally recognized as the pioneer of Jewish outreach.  His story and amazing inspirational tale should be shared in Jewish homes – especially the non-Orthodox – throughout the United States.

There are many other American Jewish heroes of this generation whose biographies one wishes were shared with Jewish youth to inspire them. There is  Sheldon Adelson, who grew up dirt poor and today is one of the greatest philanthropists in the world. “I care more about the future of my people than anything else,” he said.  Awesome.

There is Elie Wiesel whose story of surviving the Holocaust is one which Jews must never forget.  And Rabbi Avi Weiss who has had perhaps more success in his outreach work than any other living Rabbi and has been at the forefront of so many important issues. Of course there are the countless heroes who fight for the defense of our people in Israel’s  Defense Forces.

There are of course many others.

Those of us with strong Jewish homes who try daily to give our children strong and valiant Jewish values are on the front line. As Moses says in the Torah, Chazak Ve-ematz – be strong and have Courage. Each of us should do all we can to impart heroic Jewish stories to the next generation.

P.S. – I wanted to share this most amazing gorgeous chuppah entrance – With more Jewish heroes there’ll be more awesome Jewish weddings like this.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of New York based 5WPR. Read more of his writings on Jewish issues here.

3 Comments

  • Nadene van Staden

    Wow what a beautiful wedding and the singing is beautiful.I have always loved the Jewish weddings.You are right it is the parents who do not teach the children.

  • Richard Levy

    Rabbi Avi Weiss is an amazing special Jewish hero. So glad to see his name here. Holy Jew.

  • Markus E Brajtman

    BEAUTIFUL.

    I wish we could have weddings like this.
    I was so moved, esp watching a man kiss the hand of the Saphardi Chief Rabbi.

    What is happening to our Jewish children in USA?

    They should learn from our Jewish children in South Africa, who love their Judaism and Israel
    The problem is not the children, but the parents who could not care less about their Judaism and Israel.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs 10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    Ten major film studios are currently in production on projects that promote a decidedly pro-Israeli narrative. In famously liberal Hollywood, such a development has left mouths agape and set tongues a wagging. Since the Jewish State began defending itself from the thousands of rockets that Hamas has hurled at it – as well as ongoing terror attacks and murders, the overwhelming number of Tinseltown’s producers, directors, actors, and studio moguls have remained indifferent to the plight of millions of Israeli [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Sports So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    Israeli Judoka Yarden Gerbi (63kg), 25, of Netanya, on Thursday lost the final round at the Judo World Cup, and her world title to Clarisse Agbegnenou of France, at a match held in Russia. “I have mixed feelings,” Gerbi told Israeli Army radio. But, “I shouldn’t assume that I’d win the world Judo championship twice in a row,” she admitted. Gerbi won gold in Rio De Janeiro last year. “When I made my decision, I knew it was going to [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    “Jews Out!” was just the name of a child’s game that three little girls played in World War II Europe. But all is not as it seems because the three girls were Jewish, but hiding their true identities. In award-winning author R. D. Rosen’s riveting non-fiction work, Such Good Girls, “Jews Out!” wasn’t a game; it was a struggle for survival. The girls, Sophie, Flora, and Carla, grew up at a time and a place that did not allow them [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    JNS.org – “He was part hippie, part yippie, part beatnik, and part New Age,” wrote Elli Wohlgelernter in a Jerusalem Post eulogy in 1994, following the Oct. 20 passing of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Twenty years later, more robust accounts of Carlebach’s life have come to the surface. Earlier this year, Natan Ophir published the book Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission & Legacy. This past summer, Rabbi Shlomo Katz’s The Soul of Jerusalem hit the shelves. But even the authors will admit [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    As Hamas loses its grip on power in the Gaza Strip as a result of war, poverty and disillusionment, the Islamist terrorist group has developed an ingenious way to raise the morale of the 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs it was elected to serve. While currently focused on delivering a rocket into every Israeli home, Hamas has not left its own people behind. To gently wipe away the tears of children strategically placed inside kindergartens as human shields, the Hamas Interior Ministry [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.