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October 9, 2015 / 26 Tishri, 5776
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Modern Day Heroes (Part II)

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(*Names and situations changed)


Years ago, when I was starting out in my chosen profession most people were able to keep the job they had trained for their whole lives. By the year 2000, the picture had changed and it was predicted that people just starting in the work force would change professions at least six times before they retired. They would not just change jobs, but they would have to completely learn something different from their original dream.


In this economy, we are seeing more and more people lose their jobs with no new profession to look forward to entering. Many are accepting whatever position they can in order to feed their families. While others might consider these new positions beneath them, these heroes stay focused on the needs of their family, keeping that paramount and taking these new positions with a warm and accepting attitude.  To me they are modern day heroes.


Yankel* was a rebbe. He was a wonderful rebbe and loved working with his young students. But as the years went by, and his own family grew, Yankel’s salary could not meet the needs of his ever-growing family. He tried different businesses, but nothing seemed to work. Finally, putting the needs of his family first, Yankel accepted a second job after school hours.


He became a cashier in the local kosher market. At first, people were surprised to see him there. Some even felt that such a job was beneath him and it was an embarrassment to his position as a rebbe.  Most people, however, saw what Yankel did as a wonderful example for his young students. He was providing for his family and not expecting others to do it for him.


Yankel brought his pleasant personality and warm smile with him as much to his second job as his first. Strangely enough, his register always had a longer line than the others as people enjoyed his helpful nature and pleasant greetings. To most people in the neighborhood, Yankel became a hero and many people used him as a model for their children to emulate. His attitude that no honest work demeaned you and caring for his family was paramount made him a hero to most people in the community.


When Jack* lost his job, he couldn’t find another one in the city he lived in. His cousin found him employment in his field, but in a city over 1,000 miles from where they presently lived. Jack’s son was in his last year of high school and moving him before graduation was out of the question.


To complicate matters even more, the family had purchased a home last year and selling it in today’s market meant too much of a financial loss.  In addition to that, his wife had just begun a new job she loved and the chances of her getting a job quickly in the new community were nil.


And so, despite the loneliness he knew he would suffer, Jack accepted the position. He rented a very small bachelor apartment and commuted home for a weekend whenever it was financially possible. As was true for the other heroes I wrote about, Jack kept a positive attitude and had a smile for everyone he met.


If he felt sorry for himself, it was hidden well. He told me he was simply doing what needed to be done, as his family came first and knowing he took care of them made him feel successful no matter what he did for a living.


Choosing to do everything they could before asking for a bail out from family, community and friends, these men and their families are the examples I would like to hold up to my children.  No job was beneath them, no task too menial. Not only did they show a positive attitude and exceptional bravery during adversity, but they relied on their own abilities to help them out of difficult circumstances.


Examining their own talents and abilities, ignoring criticism and accepting what they could find in order to provide for their families in these difficult times, they are my heroes in today’s world of “expectation and entitlement.”


You can reach me at annnovick@hotmail.com.

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