responsibilityA central theme of Hillel’s mission statement, which guides and supports everything we do here, is responsibility; specifically “responsibility to self and community.”

Although we all understand in general that responsibility involves being accountable for something within our control, we have to be aware of how the concept translates into action in the Hillel community.

At Hillel, responsibility to self means owning one’s actions and accepting the consequences of one’s choices. It means making your best effort and developing a good work ethic. It means learning to make ethical decisions and standing up for what is right. Responsibility to self means taking care of one’s body, through healthy habits of diet, exercise and rest, and taking care of one’s soul through developing a personal relationship with God and our Jewish tradition.

What else does responsibility to self mean to you and for your children?

Responsibility to community is perhaps less straight-forward, but it involves understanding that we are part of a community and recognizing our responsibility to it. That means not only avoiding actions that adversely affect the community, but also positive actions that support the communal institutions that advance the purpose of the community.

The Jewish tradition teaches, “Do not separate yourself from the community.” (Pirkei Avot 2: 4) In the Babylonian Talmud we are told, “When the community is in trouble, a person should not say, ‘I will go into my house and eat and drink and be at peace with myself’.” (B. Talmud, Massechet Ta’anit 11a)

To foster a sense of responsibility to the Hillel community, to the Jewish community and to the community at large, we need a partnership between home and school.

We foster community responsibility by encouraging our children to participate in activities at school. The school community needs students to join our athletic teams and to participate in our choirs and our shows. These activities and traditions endure only through participation and commitment. We foster responsibility by encouraging our children to participate in tzedakah projects, clubs, the student ambassador program, and more. We foster community responsibility by holding each other accountable for how we act in the hallways, the cafeteria, chapel, and the playground.

We model community responsibility by becoming involved at school and volunteering as parents. We also model community responsibility by becoming involved in the many community organizations that need our help.

How else can we foster community responsibility in our children?

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