We Are Already Members!
There were no security guards by the synagogues or the Jewish schools when I
first wrote the manuscript a few years ago for my new children’s book that was
just published. The Courage Club , based on Sefer Daniel, is adapted into this picture
book as a present day school play performance. But when I originally wrote it, to
inspire children with Daniel’s and his friends’ courage, it didn’t feel relevant to
young Jewish lives today. Now it does.
Now it takes courage to walk around with a yarmulke or show outwardly in other
ways that you are Jewish in many public places. It takes courage to support Israel
on college campuses. And it takes courage to express a Torah view when everyone
else at a gathering is against it even being said. It’s hard to remember how
different things were a handful of years ago.
The four boys, Daniel, Chananyah, Mishael, and Azaryah, were captured by
Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers when the Babylonians conquered Yerushalayim. They
were taken away from their families to Babylonia (now Iraq) along with the holy
treasures from our demolished First Temple. The Babylonians deliberately took the
smartest teens as captives to train them for service in the king’s court, with
assimilation as a prerequisite.
The goal was to use both the shining vessels from our Beis Hamikdash as well as
these shining boys – who were also our treasures – in unholy ways. It’s hard to
stand up for what’s right in a small group of people, and these boys had to stand up
to the most powerful man with the most powerful army in the world at that time.
Instead of assimilating, they became shining examples for all the nations to
witness what a sincere recognition of our gratitude to the Almighty can accomplish.
These teens’ most major challenges are documented in our sacred writings. As we
know, growth follows a pattern of emerging stronger through challenges and
struggles. And when they struggled and passed their tests, they also passed the
spiritual DNA of heroic courage achieved down to future generations, including us.
As The Courage Club explains:
“Inside every Jewish child,
There is a tiny spark.
This spark is sometimes all that’s left,
When the world gets awfully dark.”
But if that spark gets kindled, it can light up the world.
Daniel outlived the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar, Merodach, Belshazzar, Darius, and
Cyrus, as a widely respected advisor helping to facilitate the rebuilding of our Beis
Hamikdash in Yerushalayim. (And this is even though King Darius had thrown Daniel
in a lions’ den when he was caught praying.) It is reported by some Torah scholars
that he even appears in the Purim story, still serving as an elderly wise man in the
king’s court. But this time it was for the Persian king, Ahasverus, as Daniel bravely
delivers vital information to Mordechai, helping in the unfolding of our deliverance
from destruction once again.
We have been surrounded by those rising up to seek our extermination repeatedly,
with short breaks of less overt annihilation through assimilation challenging us in
Today, when we courageously adhere to the Torah’s guidelines even when it is
difficult to do, it is from that same “pintele Yid” inside us – that tiny spark. It is
the “conscience of the world” that Hitler, yemach shemo, sought to extinguish.
From a small glow, this super-powered part of the Almighty within, continues to
light the way to outlive all who persist in seeking our end.
How can we do it? We shine through teaching our children – our holy treasures – to
appreciate the Torah’s wisdom inherited along with our spiritual capabilities and
responsibilities. We have inside us the potential to be luminaries. The Courage Club
offers eternal membership.
Bracha Goetz is the author of 41 Jewish children’s books: www.goetzbookshop.com .
Her newest picture book release is The Courage Club .