It’s almost that time of year again—the red carpet, the paparazzi, the Oscars. For some, the Academy Awards are a reason to gather with friends, and for others it’s not even a blip on their radar. What I appreciate is the rollout of quality movies at the beginning of the year—and it’s a bonus when key Jewish values are reflected in the movies of our times.
One of this year’s Best Picture nominees, The Shape of Water, is a story about compassion. Watching it made me think about how compassion is built into our Jewish worldview. In fact, this week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim (Laws), includes some of the most well-known commandments, such as setting aside part of your harvest for the poor; but in one way or another, they all have to do with creating a just and, ultimately, a compassionate society. These commandments teach us to treat others with respect and dignity no matter their station or circumstances, and they teach us to do all we can to help those who are less fortunate than we are.
Here at Jewish Federation & Family Services, compassion is a value that we strive to live every day by caring for the vulnerable in our community. We are guided by Jewish traditions of social responsibility, compassion, and respect for all, as we provide human services that support and strengthen people of all ages, beliefs, and backgrounds.
In The Shape of Water, a woman whom we could easily pity portrays her strength of character by showing compassion for others. The movie is truly a reminder that we are all capable of compassion, no matter what our circumstances are. Maya Angelou stated, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I try to keep this in mind as I go through my week, and as I choose my actions each day. Because for me, that is what it means to be Jewish.
P.S. – Please join us on Sunday, February 25, at 4:30 p.m., at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, for a special community Tribute to Blaze Bernstein, son of Gideon and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein. All are welcome at this event honoring the life of an exemplary young man who was taken from us far too soon. This event is an opportunity to once again show our support for the Bernsteins – deeply committed members of our Jewish community – Gideon as Board Chair of the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County and member of JFFS Solomon Society, and Jeanne as a member of the JCFOC Grants Task Force. You can order up to 10 tickets for your family and friends at no charge on the Segerstrom website as long as tickets are available. Tickets must be printed in advance and brought to the event.
Mission Statement: We care for people in need and strengthen Jewish community in Orange County, Israel, and around the world.
Jewish Federation & Family Services