Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Food Jewish Identity Home of Freud and…Pita? Israelis Make Culinary Mark in Vienna

    Home of Freud and…Pita? Israelis Make Culinary Mark in Vienna

    JNS.org – Several Viennese Jews have made a lasting impact on the world. Sigmund Freud’s investigations changed the face of modern psychology. Composer Arnold Schoenberg’s innovations in atonal music changed the face of music. These days, even more Jews — in particular, Israeli Jews — are changing the face of Vienna’s culinary scene with innovations in…the art of the pita. Freudians may find a psychoanalytic motive for the local appeal of the Israeli eateries popping up in the Austrian capital. Walk […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion In Iraqi Kurdistan, a Genocide Before Our Very Eyes

    In Iraqi Kurdistan, a Genocide Before Our Very Eyes

    The two bullet casings are already beginning to rust. Sheikh Nasser Pasha plucks them from the ground. “Look, one is from an AK-47, one from an American M-4.” The casings are strewn on the ground atop a long mound of dirt with a few bits of white sticks on it. It would appear unremarkable if one were walking by it. A closer look, however, reveals the white objects are pieces of human bone: arms, legs, and a single human skull. […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    JNS.org – About two-dozen people file into Dodd 175 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus on a Thursday night, scouting out seats and picking at the kosher pizza in the back of the lecture hall. Miyelani Pinini knows the drill. A former student president of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, she’s attended and even organized her share of free-pizza events. But now she and a fellow South African student leader were the stars of this […]

    Read more →
  • Food Spirituality/Tradition The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    JNS.org – It’s widely known that Israel has penetrated the wine market, with some of its sophisticated Israeli blends surpassing historically excellent wines from areas such as the Napa Valley or Bordeaux. But what about beer? For decades, Israel has offered solely the Maccabi and Nesher brands. Not anymore. “There is a huge push of people making beer at home. The country is approaching over 30 craft breweries in the last year or two, making nearly 200 beers,” says Avi Moskowitz, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Actress Natalie Portman acted like a typical “Jewish mother” on the set of her latest movie, Jane Got a Gun, the Israeli-born star told the New York Post‘s Page Six on Sunday. The 34-year-old, who also co-produced the western, said she made it her job to look out for everyone involved in the project, because the film has had to overcome “so many obstacles,” such as losing its director early on. She explained: “Actors changed. We suffered financial and legal challenges. We endured so many replacements. There were delays. […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    “We’re looking very much forward to coming back to Israel this summer,” said the lead singer of the German rock band Scorpions in a video on Monday. “Make sure you don’t miss it because we rock you like a hurricane!” said a jovial Klaus Meine, quoting the band’s seminal 1984 anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” The hard rock band lands in Israel for a show at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena on July 14 as part of its 50th anniversary tour. It will be the band’s third time […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel were the two most immediate and authentic literary voices who gave witness to the Holocaust. Wiesel was an extrovert and a very public figure who wrote initially in French. Levi was a modest retiring chemist who wrote in Italian. Whereas Wiesel was rooted in the Eastern European Jewish Hassidic world, Levi was the product of an assimilated, secular Italian society that saw itself as Italian first and Jewish as an accident of birth. As Levi himself said, “At Auschwitz I […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Lifestyle Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    JNS.org – Wine has long been considered a social lubricant, and it’s Nir Lavie’s hope that wine from his Har Bracha Winery in the Samarian hills will serve as a social lubricant between the city-goers of Tel Aviv and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, two locales split geographically, and often politically, on the left and right of the country. The new flagship store of Har Bracha has recently popped its corks on 190 Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, […]

    Read more →