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...

  • Book Reviews Opinion Robert Gates’ Memoir is a Jaw-Dropping Read (REVIEW)

    Robert Gates’ Memoir is a Jaw-Dropping Read (REVIEW)

    Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates’s memoir follows the classic form, telling the story of his years at the Pentagon during the Bush and Obama administrations. He focuses on what he did and experienced personally as secretary, neither writing a broad policy treatise nor recounting the entire history of the administrations in which he served. In so doing, Gates provides penetrating insights about the inner workings of US national security decision-making. Had I been George W. Bush, I would [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews The Media, Israel, and Anti-Semitism (REVIEW)

    The Media, Israel, and Anti-Semitism (REVIEW)

    Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A-Z by Lee Bender and Jerome Verlin (Pavilion Press, Philadelphia, Pa. 2013) Sophocles said, “What people believe prevails over truth,” Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A-Z is ideal for the arm chair reader who would like a basic grasp of the terms used in the mainstream media’s presentation of the Arab-Israeli situation as is reported today. This is a book whose time has come. This is a book where the reader gains a [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs William Shatner’s One Man Show Keeps Him in the Limelight (INTERVIEW)

    William Shatner’s One Man Show Keeps Him in the Limelight (INTERVIEW)

    JNS.org – On Thursday, audiences around the country can feel what it is like to be William Shatner, the Jewish actor best known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk on “Star Trek.” Shatner’s one-man show “Shatner’s World”—which was on Broadway and toured Canada, Australia, and the United States—will be presented in nearly 700 movie theaters nationwide for one night only on April 24. Sponsored by Fathom Events and Priceline.com (for whom Shatner has famously served as a pitchman), [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    Romirowsky and Joffe’s book Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief is an important volume for those interested in truly understanding the origins of the Palestinian refugee issue. Utilizing a treasure trove of newly released documents, the authors link UNRWA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) origins to the Quakers/American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). For those readers who thought they knew most of the Middle East story, Romirowsky and Joffe’s version provides another twist. The authors meticulously [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.