Pinchas - 5778

Dear Congregant,

This Tuesday my family and I went to see the exceptional new documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” a retrospective on the life and legacy of the children’s television pioneer, Fred Rogers. 

Like the film “RBG” which closed this year’s JFEC International Film Festival, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” tells the story of an unlikely cultural hero, a man celebrated – but also frequently parodied – for his assiduous manners, upbeat demeanor and resolute defense of society’s most vulnerable members, in Mr. Rogers’ case, its children.

That Mr. Rogers (and Justice Ginsberg) should have found themselves the objects of scorn for delivering an optimistic, values-laden message that struck many of their contemporaries as simplistic and Pollyanna-ish should come as no surprise to those who have previewed this week’s haftarah.  The opening chapters of the Book of Jeremiah, which we read this Saturday in preparation for the observance of Tisha b’Av, illustrate the resistance often faced by those who call upon us to be our better selves.

But perhaps the near simultaneous release of these two recent documentaries, lionizing individuals who not only articulated but also embodied some of our society’s highest values, points to the birth of a different – one might say, corrective – cultural moment, a time when we celebrate the principles that elevate and animate us as individuals and as a nation.  If so, it cannot come too soon.