The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 4 June 2005 / 26 Iyyar 5765

They Call Their Boss a Hero

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

It happened almost ten years ago but there are a lot of people who will never forget it.

Aaron Feuerstein, the CEO of the Malden Mills manufacturing plant in northern Massachusetts, was invited to sit next to President Bill Clintons family as he delivered his State of the Union address. This was a gesture of appreciation for what this observant Jew did that year when a catastrophic fire nearly destroyed all of the textile companys plant in Lawrence. In contrast to what almost every other businessman would have done, Feuerstein announced that he would keep all of his 3,000 employees on his payroll while he rebuilt his 90-year old family business. Although it cost him several million dollars, he paid his employees for the three months until they could return to full employment.

In an article titled "They Call Their Boss a Hero", the September 8, 1996 edition of Parade Magazine did a write-up on this remarkable man who quoted the Sage Hillel as saying, "In a situation where there is no righteous person, try to be a righteous person." This was the motto of a man who was a hero to his employees, his people and the entire world.

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