Jewish Journal

Have the Courage to Stand Up For Others

by Beit T'shuvah

May 10, 2013 | 11:11 am

By Rabbi Mark Borovitz

As I sit at the computer this morning to write my weekly blog, I am unable to understand the swirl of thoughts that are going through my head. I am thinking about the women in Cleveland. I am thinking about a speaker we had at Beit T’Shuvah on Wednesday night, David Sheff. I am thinking about my late father. I am just a bunch of thoughts with no one theme, it seems. As I am writing this, I get why all of these people come together for me.

COURAGE- this is the theme and the connection. The courage of a man to respond to cries for help. The courage of a woman to cry for help. The courage of three women to stay alive and not give up hope. The courage of David Sheff to write about the great tragedy of addiction. The courage of my father to treat every person as a human being regardless of race, color, religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, etc.

I sit here at the computer and wonder, why is courage in such short supply? Why are NIMBY and NMB so prevalent in our country today? I think that courage is in great supply today; we just don’t recognize it. I see courage every day when I watch the struggle of people striving to live well. I see courage in our donors who are not afraid to honor the dignity of another human being, no matter who they are. I see courage each day in Avia Rosen who fights the cancer that tried to take over her body. I see courage each day in the staff who come to work, knowing they are in a life and death struggle. I see courage each day in people from all walks of life who wrestle to make their corner of the world a little better each day. I ask myself, do I admire and emulate this courage or do I hide?

NIMBY, short for not in my backyard, is a place to hide in plain site. It allows me to be prejudiced and cowardly while “standing up for myself.” It is a lie and a sham. Who are any of us to say NIMBY unless we are saying NIMBY to injustice, hatred, prejudice, poverty, etc. We are all immigrants and all resident aliens. It is God who helped us get to where we are, other people helped us get here, yet we forget and say NIMBY! How arrogant can we get?

NMB is short for not my business. Have you noticed how many people don’t get involved because they say NMB? How often have you read about something and said, NMB? Yet we get mad when Corporations and Government say NMB. We get angry when the Supreme Court refuses to hear our plea because they say NMB. Yet, we can say it at will and without rhyme or reason. What is wrong with us? Do we forget the words inscribed on a wall in the National Holocaust Museum, when they came for me, there was no one to help?

This week, let us recommit to be courageous and honor the courage of others. Our Sages say, in a place where there is no human, be human. Please God, please all of us, let us live this teaching a little more this week.

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