Rabbi Ron Symons on June 14, 2022
While the punch line has changed over the years, the joke (and the underlying societal impression) is unfortunately still the same. While we were growing up, when we were asked what we would be getting Dad for Father’s Day, we always answered, “A tie.” Inevitably, that tie was either store bought with intentions of either meeting, stretching, or countering Dad’s fashion sense; or homemade out of construction paper. You know it’s true whether you were the giver or receiver. Today, television and social media are filled with so many more options including gourmet filets, rechargeable lawn equipment, personalized socks and the like.
No matter the gift, the norm has been remotely connected to the idea of showing our dads respect. Of course, this is not a foreign idea to us in the Jewish community. After all, Jewish communities across the globe and across the ages just read the Ten Commandments on Shavuot, including “You shall honor your father or mother.”
I can’t help but to think that the societal impression is that our dads are DESERVING of respect just because they are dads. Here at the JCC, and throughout our network of Southwest PA Says NO More to Domestic and Sexual Violence, we are eager to change the impression from dads DESERVING respect to dads EARNING respect through the ways we work to prevent and call out domestic and sexual violence. Over the course of the past decade, our JCC has been a leading partner in this work having organized cohorts of male social service workers across the region learning how to apply these aspirations to our work, training high school students who serve as basketball coaches to younger children to build self-esteem across gender identities and providing similar training to our camp counselors.
While we are proud of all this professional work, ultimately, we will be even more proud, when each of us, no matter our profession, role in community, or gender identity takes the pledge:
I PLEDGE TO:
• Not use violence of any form in my relationships.
• Speak up if I witness harassment or abusive behavior.
• Take reports of abuse seriously and support survivors.
• Mentor and teach young people to have safe, mutually respectful relationships.
• Work to end all forms of violence. I will lead by example.
Now that would be a great Father’s Day present for us all ‘tying’ together our long-held values with our Jewish identities as we apply them to a world in need of repair. (We are grateful to the FISA Foundation and United Way of Southwestern PA and STANDING FIRM for their leadership in SWPA Says NO MORE.)
Rabbi Ron Symons took the pledge with Rev. Liddy Barlow of Christian Associates of Southwest PA and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald among other community leaders at the opening of The Three Rivers Arts Festival.