When I was teaching theater I always paid for performance licenses (royalties) for every play we produced and I was often criticized. “Why do you do that? You’re only a high school. Who is going to know? Other schools just photocopy a script they borrow from the library.”
I answered that paying royalties and respecting intellectual property rights is the right thing to do and shouldn’t we model doing the right thing for our students?
I do not claim to be extraordinarily virtuous or in any way superior to others, but I felt then as I feel now regarding Temple Beth Hillel, that when we act on behalf of a school or our synagogue that we should hold ourselves to a higher ethical standard. I know that we should strive to uphold Jewish values all the time and in all aspects of our lives, but I can’t help feeling added responsibility when I represented Rosemead High School and now when I represent Temple Beth Hillel.
I feel that the way we, leadership, treat our employees, our vendors, our contractors, our surrounding community members and each other represents who we are and I take that responsibility very seriously.
In the last years, we have had to make some very difficult decisions weighing the concerns of individuals against the well being of our synagogue and safety against our need to be together. I know that we often struggled and perhaps we didn’t always make the right choice, but I honestly think that we are trying our very best.
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am not for others, what am I?
And if not now, when? -Rabbi Hillel
~ Michael R Cohen, President, Temple Beth Hillel