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Jewish values through the year

Jewish values through the year

In January, we are exploring the Jewish value of k’vod habriyot, or individual dignity. The Torah teaches us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, V’ahavta l’reacha kamocha, or to treat others the way we want to be treated. So how do we treat others with respect? How can we be upstanders, not bystanders, when others are treated wrongly? As you read the following scenarios, adapted from Living Jewish Values: Be Your Best Self (Behrman House), think about how you could handle the situation respectfully while treating the person in question with dignity.

  • Your elderly great-aunt loves to tell stories, but tells the same story over and over. What do you do?

  • In a cafe, the waitress doesn’t speak much English. When she tries to take your order, she has a hard time understanding you. How do you respond?

  • When you are with your friends or co-workers and see the building’s janitor, what do you do?

  • A classmate has some learning challenges. At recess, she asks for help with an assignment you think is really easy. What do you say?

  • You are waiting to pay for your purchases, and the cashier seems to be treating another customer unfairly and being rude to him. What can you do?

In all of these cases, we can say the wrong thing and hurt someone else’s feelings. But if we begin by thinking “how would I want to be treated if it were me” then we move toward treating others with dignity and recognizing that each person we encounter is worthy of our respect. And when other people are involved, we can step up and be an example of respectful behavior, a doogma eesheet, or role model.
In February, we explore the Jewish value of maachil re’evim: Feeding the Hungry. We will be doing a series of fundraisers during our Spirit Month leading up to Purim with the goal of raising money for Yad Ezra. Feeding those in need is a significant Jewish value, and giving money to the poor is one of the mitzvot, or commandments, of Purim. We will also be doing a Food Drive in February-March.