Many Brooklynites are familiar with the expression "The 3 Ms." This refers to three large, well known public high schools that are all located in the same general vicinity. In alphabetical and chronological order they are Madison, Midwood and Murrow. (James Madison HS was named for the 4th US President; Midwood is the Anglicized version of the Dutch place-name "Midwout"; Edward R. Murrow HS was named for the pioneering radio-TV journalist.) All three are popular,offering solid academics and extra-curricular activities, have their share of famous graduates and teach thousands of students each year.

I have ties to all three. I attended Murrow and now both my daughters do so as well. I taught at Midwood for one term in spring 1988, and many of my friends went there. I also had friends who attended or taught at Madison, and I swam there as a teen. But in this blog I will focus on Midwood High School. Recently it was rocked by a disturbing story. In mid-December a male student set on fire a female student's hair. The girl suffered injuries. People were shocked by this creepy story because Midwood is generally considered a safe, sane school.

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But now Midwood can look with pride at another student who just did a brave thing, and the city's media is crowing about this teen's good deed. Ahmed Khalifa, a 17 year old with a 90-plus grade average, helped an elderly Orthodox Jewish woman who was struck violently by a man while they were all riding a subway train. Khalifa, who is Muslim, helped track down the attacker and capture him. As the teen said "It was just something that anybody should do. It's not that big of a deal to me."


It is something of a big deal. In the United States of late, there have been so many racially/religiously/ethnically motivated fights, attacks, provocations, and smears. It is maddening, sad, frightening, even pathetic. Yet there are many people, young and old, who will step up for each other. There are Muslims and Jews who do help out each other. There are teenagers who do reach out to the elderly. There are people who act and do not shy away from coming to the assistance of those in need. This is such a story. I hope this late December 2016 incident will inspire us throughout 2017, to do good. The mitzvah of a Muslim teen, performed for a Jewish woman, can and should coax us to do the right thing more and more. And not just in New York City but in the rest of the United States and throughout the world.

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