• Shari Stein

See or Hear Something? Say Something

Updated: Mar 20, 2019




Upstander - a person who speaks or acts in support of an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied.


Esther, one of the great Biblical heroines will be celebrated this week during the Jewish festival of Purim. We celebrate Esther because she stood up for her people. In fact, she risked her life in order to save the lives of her fellow Jews. According to the Book of Esther: The Persian king, Ahasuerus, agreed to his commander Haman’s request to kill all of the Jews. His wife, Esther, had kept her Jewish identity a secret until the King grants her one wish and she chooses to tell him she is Jewish and wants her people spared. The king grants her wish. They had a glorious celebration, and according to the story, Esther decreed the annual holiday of Purim. Every year, children and even adults often dress up in costumes and drown out Haman’s name with noise during the re-reading of this story.


In today’s digital world, we need to stand up to cyberbullies, offensive social media posts and online vitriol. Whether this vitriol starts out as light-hearted teasing intended to draw laughs or as intentionally cruel epithets, we cannot be passive. Whether it is our neighborhood or school friends or our country’s President, we need to stand up and make some noise with our own words and/or actions.


Like Esther, we too can save lives.


Twelve year old Mallory Grossman died by suicide after enduring cyberbullying and bullying in school. This horrific incident is hard to imagine and offers tremendously valuable lessons. There were bystanders. Friends of the main bully and onlookers knew what was going on and being said. Imagine what might have happened if they stood up for Mallory. Mallory’s parents were well aware of the issues and worked with their daughter to overcome the torment. They begged the teachers and administrators to help and the fact that they couldn’t resolve the situation is another discussion.


Peer pressure can have positive and negative effects on children and on adults. We all tend to listen differently when our peers ask something of us. Teens Health explains that: “Peer pressure can influence a person to do something that is relatively harmless — or something that has more serious consequences….often it just takes one person to speak out or take a different action to change a situation. Your friends may follow if you have the courage to do something different or refuse to go along with the group.”


If someone in the crowd would have spoken to the Queen Bee, just as Esther spoke to the King, perhaps this tragedy would have been avoided.


Martin Luther King made this point clear when he said, “You are not only responsible

for what you say, but also for what you do not say.” Whether online or off, we need to accept the responsibility we have to each other, to stand up to bullies.


For anyone celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim by dressing in costume, I have a suggestion, choose Esther. Actually, let’s all, celebrating Purim or not, act like Esther - all year!