Due to the hustle of my weekly routine, many things get put aside for later. But, once I enrolled in Eser, it quickly became my priority. It served as an oasis of goodness in my week and helped me gain perspective. I could express myself and explore my Jewish identity, an identity that my normal, fast-paced day-to-day life does not always nurture or allow to thrive. I could be sincere with others as well as myself. I was often humbled bythe knowledge and sincerity of my peers and offered insight when I had something to share. My group was able to unwind while learning together.

But Eser didn’t just seem like a place for learning, it was more like a place for sharing and connecting. Everyone there was not only thoughtful but also unique and I can’t wait to start it again. It’s been just over 2 months since Eser wrapped up and I still think about how much I gained from it. In particular, it helped me and my peers process the Boston Marathon bombing. It was the most tragic event to occur in the U.S.since September 11th. The unwarranted act led to so much suffering. That week in Eser our topic was comic book heroes. When we think of heroes, many people’s minds turn to fiction and folklore but on April 15th, we saw ordinary people risking their lives to help those who were about to lose theirs. Some of the responders to the attack were not EMT’s, police, or firefighters, but citizens who made the choice to assist those in urgent need of help. At Eser we talked about what a hero could be.

After our conversation, in light of the Stan Lee/Comic Book theme, we were each asked to draw four examples of our concept of heroes. Here are my drawings and what they express.

One: A firefighter breaking down the door of a burning building, risking his or her own skin, without hesitation, to save another’s.

Two: Not just a surgeon but a surgical team, ensuring they’re doing everything in their power to better the life of someone else they don’t know.

Three: Something less heavy but still important, a woman giving a kid a high five, because little kids need encouragement.

Four: A set of American football linemen aggressively stopping a hoard of zombies from reaching survivors in an epic apocalyptic scenario, because we all still have our nightmares. 

created at: 2013-08-16created at: 2013-08-16

Paul Shuster participated in theNewton group of “Eser 2013: Top Ten Influential Jews” where participants studied Stan Lee, among others. Lee founded Marvel Comics, and many of his comic-book heroes were modeled on Jewish icons and ethical ideals.

To learn more about Eser, please visit http://www.hebrewcollege.edu/eser.

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