- People have the capacity to choose freely between good and evil
- Everything one does is part of who s/he is
- Jewish wisdom insists we take responsibility for our decisions and actions
- What evidence do we have in Jewish texts to support these ideas?
- Which of the stories below is, in your opinion, the story of a hero? What supports your opinion
'Sully has heard from people who say preparation and diligence are not the same as heroism. He agrees.
One letter ...came from Paul Kellen of Medford, Mass. "I see a hero as electing to enter a dangerous situation for a higher purpose," he wrote, "and you were not given a choice. That is not to say you are not a man of virtue, but I see your virtue arising from your choices at other times. It's clear that many choices in your life prepared you for that moment when your engines failed.
"There are people among us who are ethical, responsible and diligent. I hope your story encourages those who toil in obscurity to know that their reward is simple—they will be ready if the test comes. I hope your story encourages others to imitation."
Sully now sees lessons for the rest of us. "We need to try to do the right thing every time, to perform at our best," he says, "because we never know what moment in our lives we'll be judged on."'
Dr. Tina Strobos is 89 years old and lives in Rye, NY. During World War II she lived in Amsterdam and was part of a family that saved many Jews by hiding them in their home. You can read about her here.
Why would she take such gambles for people she sometimes barely knew?
“It’s the right thing to do,” she said with nonchalance. “Your conscience tells you to do it. I believe in heroism, and when you’re young, you want to do dangerous things.”
'... such an outlook has an origin, what Donna Cohen, the Holocaust Center’s executive director, calls “learned behavior.” Dr. Strobos comes from a family of socialist atheists who took in Belgian refugees during World War I and hid German and Austrian refugees before World War II. Dr. Strobos had close Jewish friends and, for a time, a Jewish fiancé, Abraham Pais... . '
Here are some quotations from Jewish sources to read and think about. What does each quotation mean? How are they similar? How are they different? Choose one and use it to explain why Captain Sullenberger and Dr. Strobos did what they did.
from Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers:
|י בְּנִי-- אִם-יְפַתּוּךָ חַטָּאִים, אַל-תֹּבֵא.|| 10 My child, if sinners attract you, don't follow them.|