Our pre-teen and early teenage years are some of our most trans-formative years. The growth from childhood to young adulthood can be traumatic, but also life changing.
The short-lived television series Flash Forward (1996-1997) told the story of four best friends, two of whom have known each other since they were little. Tucker (Ben Foster) is the goofball. His best friend, Becca (Jewel Staite) is the serious one. Miles (Theodore Borders) provides the reality check. Christine Harrison (Asia Vieira) is the listener.
While this show only lasted one season, it still stands out because it spoke to the audience, who were the same age as the characters. It spoke to the audience because the audience understood the characters and visa versa. Unfortunately, the show was not given the opportunity it could have had.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
One of my favorite phrases from the Talmud is as follows:
Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if they destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if they saved an entire world.
During World War II, while most non Jews either turned their backs on their Jewish friends and neighbors or openly collaborated with the Nazis, a few brave souls dared to protect their Jewish friends and neighbors. They knew that if they were caught, the punishment for not just the individual, but his or her entire family was execution. But they still put their lives and the lives of their families on the line.
Writer Yvette Manessis Corporon was raised on her Greek grandmother’s stories of saving the lives of a Jewish tailor and his children during the war. But she didn’t know much beyond the story, until she started doing some research. Her research and her experience while doing this research led to the memoir, Something Beautiful Happened: A Story of Survival and Courage in the Face of Evil. While in the midst of fleshing out her grandmother’s story and trying to locate the living relations of the family whose lives were saved by her grandmother, Ms. Corporon was hit by a personal tragedy. In Overland Park, Kansas in April of 2014, three people were killed by a Neo-Nazi outside of a JCC. While none of the victims were Jewish, two of the victims, a young boy and his grandfather were cousins on her husband’s side of the family.
The thing that strikes me about this book is that it reminds me of the choices that we have in life. We can either waste our time and energy and hate someone because they are different or we can accept someone for who they are and move on with our lives. The author’s grandmother could have easily said no to saving her neighbors, after all, she still had to take care of her own family. But she said yes and in doing so, became a faint light in the darkness of World War II and The Holocaust.
I absolutely recommend it.
Late last week, Seinfeld and Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced via her twitter account that she has breast cancer.
My thoughts and prayers go out to her and her family as she battles this all too common disease.
Her announcement reminds me and should remind all of us how sadly precarious the health insurance system in America is. While she is one of the fortunate who has access to reliable medical care, many women in her same situation are not as fortunate. The fact that some Republicans continue to waste time, effort and tax payer dollars on repealing Obama care, in spite of the fact that there are millions of American citizens living and potentially dying from disease because of the lack of healthcare is heartbreaking.
The fact that we are one of the wealthiest countries in the world and we cannot provide universal healthcare to all citizens is disgusting. We have to open our eyes as a nation and face reality. Otherwise we maybe cutting off our nose to spite our face.
There is an old saying: all that glitters is not gold. The same could be said about Hollywood and the movie stars that fill up our screens. Behind the performer is the real human being who is dealing with the same sh*t that we all deal with.
In the 2011 movie, My Week With Marilyn, Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) is in London in the mid 1950’s to film The Prince And The Showgirl. Being directed by and starring opposite Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), Marilyn is not the easiest performer to work with. Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) is a young film student who gets a job as a part of the film crew. As time goes on, Marilyn reveals that there is much more to her that the on-screen sex goddess and Colin begins understand some truths about people and life that only time, experience and maturity bring.
What I really appreciated about this movie was that it revealed some truths that many of us, regardless of whether we are a Hollywood star or a John or Jane Doe, deal with on a day-to-day basis. I also appreciated that the film humanized one of Hollywood’s best known icons and brought her down to a level that makes us appreciate and respect her as a person, not as a performer.
I recommend it.
We have two choices when life throws us a curve ball. We can either roll over and take it or see the opportunities in the curve ball.
In 1921, future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was crippled by polio. He sought treatment in Warm Springs, Georgia.
In 2005, this period of FDR’s was dramatized in the TV movie, Warm Springs. Stepping into the fictionalized shoes of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were Kenneth Branagh and Cynthia Nixon. While FDR is being treated for polio, he is helping to revitalize the spa and inspire the other patients, in addition to trying to keep his marriage afloat.
In American politics and American history, both FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt are giants. In humanizing the main characters, the audience sees another to the late President and First Lady that only a select few during his time in office saw.
I recommend it.
No one is perfect. We all have our faults and we all make mistakes. But that does not mean that we can’t start over and wipe the slate clean.
Friday night to Saturday night is Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
We ask for forgiveness of our sins from both our fellow mortals and our holy parent. We hope that the combination of asking for forgiveness, prayer and fasting for 25 hours will be enough for the slate to be wiped clean for another year.
For me, Yom Kippur, of all of the Jewish holidays, is the most important day of the year. The hardest thing anyone can do is admit that they are wrong and ask to be forgiven for our errors. It’s not easy, but it is sometimes necessary. When the sun has finally set and the Shofar has been heard, it is as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
My creator and holy parent does not expect me to be perfect, it is understand that I am human and I will make mistakes. At the same time, it is also understand that I am willing to repent and try to learn from my mistakes when they occur.
To all those who are fasting, have an easy fast and may the G-d write you in the book of life for another year.
Dr. Edith Eva Eger has a unique take on grief and dealing with the emotional trauma. A survivor of Auschwitz and The Holocaust, her experience during World War II gives her an insight as how to deal and move on from grief and trauma.
She has chronicles her experiences in a book entitled, The Choice: Embrace the Possible. At the outset of World War II, Dr. Eger was a young woman from a Jewish family living in Hungary. By the time the war was over, Dr. Eger was a survivor of Auschwitz and other concentration camps. While she and her sisters were lucky enough to survive, the rest of their family perished. After the war, she married, had three children, became a refugee from Soviet controlled Hungary and emigrated to America, where she eventually received her doctorate in psychology.
Among memoirs by Holocaust survivors, this book stands out. While it is about Dr. Eger’s story, it is about much more than that. It is about how we can face our demons and traumas, whatever form they take and find the inner peace that we are yearning for.
I absolutely recommend it.
We all need a break from life every once in a while. It’s crucial to take a step back and simply breathe.
When the sun sets tomorrow night, the holiday of Rosh Hashanah begins. Ending Friday night, many within the Jewish faith will take a break from their daily schedules to pray for what will hopefully be a sweet new year.
For me personally, these two days are about renewal and a chance to take a step back and evaluate the past year. No one is perfect, we all have faults and we all make mistakes. The holiday is about accepting our faults, looking at our mistakes and seeing where we can learn from those mistakes going forward. It’s not easy, but the process is well worth the struggle.
To those celebrating, L’Shanah Tovah, have a sweet and happy New Year.
Being a teenager is the most confusing, amazing and life altering experience that anyone will ever have.
In 1999’s Just Looking, Lenny (Ryan Merriman) is a 14 year boy living in the Bronx in 1955. Summer has just begun and Lenny has only one goal to complete by the time school starts: watch two adults, well, make whoopee, as was the phrase from the period. His mother Sylvia (Patti LuPone) sends him to Queens for the summer to live her pregnant younger sister and her husband. Meeting the gorgeous and much older Hedy (Gretchen Mol) turns Lenny’s world upside down.
Lenny’s original goal may be to catch two adults in the act, but he learn much more that summer.
Coming of age stories are nothing new. But in the hands of skilled writer, the coming of age story feels universal. It also helps that this film is set in the mid 1950’s, creating an emotional distance that allows the audience not only to consider the age of the main character, but the world he lived and grew up in.
I recommend it.
20 years ago today, Princess Diana was killed in a car crash. She was 36.
When she married Prince Charles in 1981 at the young age of 19, she looked every inch of the fairy tale princess who had found her prince.
But life, as we know it to be, is not a fairy tale. It is complicated, it contains unforeseen twists and turns and can be heartbreaking.
The thing that I see in the memories of her is a pliable, caring, innocent young woman, who persevered through the sh*t that was thrown at her and learned to not only stand on her own two feet, but also make a life of her own choosing.
In finding her backbone and learning to stand on her own two feet, Princess Diana not only increased her icon status, but also became a heroine to those who find themselves fighting to develop their own backbone.
As many other have said before, if we remember her for nothing else, we remember that she was amazing mother. Her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry have grown into men that I am sure their mother would be nothing but glowing about. As a mother-in-law to Catherine and a grandmother to George and Charlotte, she would have been a light of modernity and love in the darkness of blind tradition.
RIP Princess Diana. Your legacy of love, strength, compassion, and humanity will last forever.