Responsibility, Community

What are the identities of the imaginary characters we will hold dear for the next several months? The decision seems much more weighty than a year ago.

As our imaginary characters begin to come to life again, middle schoolers are weighing potential characters’ life choices: should my character go to college even if he wants to be a professional baseball player? does my character care more about cleaning up her local beach, or lobbying to change laws regarding plastics use? And, if my character needs a new kidney, he’s probably sick, and I’m not sure that I want to have a character who’s sick.

Much more than last year, our middle schoolers can see that their characters’ life choices will impact their daily lives, relationships, opportunities, and more.

This week, we began interviewing folks who have first-hand knowledge of the strands we’ve been exploring. We met a retired Navy chaplain, and we met a friend of Rabbi Rebecca’s who’d received a kidney transplant. Amazingly, both guests offered similar messages: we are responsible for one another.

What a message for our middle schoolers to hear! They were fascinated by a story Chaplain Resnicoff shared that all Jews on a military base, and plenty of other folks, too, attended the Bar Mitzvah of a soldier’s son on that base even though they didn’t know the Bar Mitzvah kid. Rabbi Resnicoff told our middle schoolers about how he’d collect the phone numbers of parents whose sons were being shipped out, and then he’d call the parents when he’d seen their son. He talked about responsibilities we have to our families, the people around us, and our country.

Rabbi Rebecca’s friend spoke with our middle schoolers about the critical role family and friends played in helping him stay positive while he waited on the transplant list, slowly getting sicker, and how important his support network was to his family during the recovery from surgery. He said he couldn’t wait to get back to being a father, because that’s his most important job.

Community and responsibility. It’s clear that our imaginary characters’ lives and going to intersect in much more profound ways than last year.

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