Finding the Heroes

Rabbi's Message - June 29, 2021

Rabbi Tina Sobo

Towards the beginning of the pandemic, Rabbi Bodney-Halasz reminded us that during a tragedy and amidst darkness, we can find light by looking to the heroes.  We aren’t ignoring the bad situation around us, but we balance it in our minds with hope and light.  

Last Thursday in the early hours of the morning and in just 11 seconds, 55 condo units were destroyed in the collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, Florida.  The news stories about this event that have crossed my eyes include videos of the collapse, pictures of destruction, and headlines of hope fading for those who remain missing.  Our hearts are broken by this tragedy, our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and it is easy to remain in a state of shock and despair.  So I wanted to take a minute to shift our perspective and look to some of the heroes – beyond the first responders and other rescue workers that ran toward the rubble.

In one article, Nicholas Balboa was highlighted as someone who was out walking his dog when he felt the ground shake and rushed towards the building. He reported that the first thing that came to mind were the images of the twin towers on 9/11.  With that in mind, he heard a boy crying for help and saw a hand sticking up through the debris.  With the help of another bystander and eventually other rescue workers, Balboa was able to free this little boy and his mother from the rubble.

Balboa was not being paid to run towards the building.  He was walking his dog and could have continued walking.  He chose a different path and because of that choice, he saved a young boy and his mother.  Who knows how long that child would have remained under the rubble if it weren’t for Balboa stopping.  But, he heard a noise, and stepped aside to pay attention, saving lives in the process.

We may not get daily opportunities to be a hero amid a building collapse, but we do have daily opportunities to give one another hope, to look for the light, and reach out a helping hand.  Jewish bravery isn’t about having superpowers.  Jewish bravery comes, as Pirkei Avot (4:1) teaches, when one can conquer their inner impulses and reach past their selfish instincts, to do good in this world.  

Who will you be a hero for this week?

If you would like to donate to help the people affected by the Surfside building collapse, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation has established an emergency assistance fund that will aid with short-term and long-term needs.