Keep Schools Open to Honor Heroes

Article excerpt

Byline: Rabbi James Gordon

Recently, while visiting my neighborhood bank, I was greeted with a sign posted on the door announcing, "The bank will be closed on Monday, Feb. 15, in commemoration of Presidents Day."

My initial reaction was, "Oh, just another excuse to give people a day off." On a deeper level my reaction was, "I hope that schools are not closed that day."

My dismay at school closings for national and state holidays is not due to a feeling that the events or the people being remembered are not worthy, but quite the contrary. Rather, I am disappointed because by giving these days off we squander a golden opportunity to better educate our children about our great American heroes.

Instead of memories of Veterans Day and Memorial Day being about great American war heroes, oftentimes they are about going to the movies and to family barbecues. Instead of learning about great American heroes such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., many times our

children learn how to pick up a spare in bowling or where to buy a pair of jeans on sale on these holidays.

It is my sincere belief that our children would be better off if they were required to attend school on these holidays, and the school curriculum on these days would be devoted to teaching about and properly memorializing the heroes we so justifiably honor.

On Veterans Day, for example, veterans from U.S. wars should visit schools and address our children. On Martin Luther King Day we should study about civil rights, bigotry, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Instead, however, we squander a golden educational opportunity, simply taking the easy way out and making these holidays vacation days.

This coming Tuesday, Feb. 23, the Jewish community will commemorate a day on which it is traditional to memorialize a great hero. That day coincides with the date known as Zayin ("the seventh day of") Adar in the Hebrew (lunar) calendar. Zayin Adar is the anniversary of both the birth and death of one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, hero in Jewish history. On the seventh day of Adar more than 3,000 year ago, the Hebrew prophet Moses was born. Exactly 120 years later on that very same day, Moses passed away.

Moses will always be remembered as the ideal leader in Jewish history. Because he possessed so many fine traits, Moses has been firmly established as a person to always admire and from whom to learn. What were some of Moses' most outstanding qualities? …