Rogue One: The Courage to Help Others Fit In.

In Vayeshev, this week’s Torah portion, we learn of the horrific story of Yosef’s brother’s selling him into slavery. The story starts off because Israel sets him apart from his brothers. There we read:

Now Israel loved Yosef more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a coat of many colors. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.( Genesis 37:3-4)

While you can appreciate their animosity toward their little brother, why did  they not try to find other ways of normalizing their relationship with him? There is this child with his coat of many colors, couldn’t they find other ways of making him fit in?

I was think about this recently when watching a wonderful commercial for Rogue One. I dare you to watch this without crying.


It is touching to see what her classmates are willing to do to help her fit in.

This story of Yosef and this commercial for Rogue One both remind me of a very touching story that Shoshi Rothchild the Associate camp director of Camp Kinneret-Biluim shared with me at a recent Board reception for the Foundation for Jewish Camp. At Camp Kinneret-Biluim, they refer to their community as a “chevra”. Shoshi wrote:

In the summer of 2009, one of my 10-year-old campers came to me with an extremely concerned look on her face, the evening before the entire camp was supposed to go to the waterslide park. She asked me, in a very serious voice, if it was okay for her to borrow 12 life jackets from the camp for the following day. I looked at her, confused, and asked why. It turns out that one of the girls in her cabin suffered from epilepsy and had just been told that she would have to wear a life jacket while at the waterpark, for safety reasons. She was so upset and embarrassed about the idea of wearing a life jacket that she had decided she would rather stay back at camp than join in on one of the most exciting trips of the summer. The camper who came to me wasn’t a particularly close friend of the other girl, but seeing one of her cabin mates so upset, and about to miss out on what would surely be an incredibly fun day, just didn’t sit well with her. She had decided that it only made sense for every single girl in her cabin to wear a life jacket right along with her, to save her the embarrassment, and ensure that she didn’t miss out on the fun. To me, this is the meaning of “chevra”, of kindness, of community, and of Jewish summer camp. I am proud to say that as of 5 days ago, this caring, empathetic, and community-minded camper received her offer to work as a first year staff on our staff team this year, and I can’t wait to see what wonderful Jewish values she teaches to her own campers this summer.

In Shoshi’s story as in the commercial for Rogue One we learn of the courage it takes to help someone fit in. Yosef’s brothers lack this courage and it spins out of control with them selling their brother into slavery. In today’s political climate we are seeing different groups and people being singled out all too often. Will we rise to the occasion and find ways to ensure that everyone has a place in the chevra, or will we be complacent and allow ourselves to sell our brothers into slavery?



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