Posted: Friday, July 6, 2018 – 12:09 PM
I finally saw Won’t You Be My Neighbor the excellent, tender and revealing documentary about Fred Rogers, a former minister.
I never did see his TV show although I caught more than a few glimpses as my daughters sat transfixed before this soft-spoken man dressed in his signature cardigan and sneakers.
He spoke to my kids and told them to be good to one another. As “love” was the key phrase, he felt it was incumbent to send this heartfelt and important message to all children whose innocence and love were still intact and, hopefully would continue as they got older.
It was a humane message and brought to them by a man who pushed “love” without any other thought of intent or malice.
Fred Rogers was criticized for inviting his television black mailman to take off his shoes and socks and rest his aching feet in a cool basin of water where Mister Rogers’ feet rested. This mild-mannered man never waivered in his quest to teach his impressionable little viewers the need for love and tolerance when understanding was in its embryonic stage. The biblical simple command of “Love Thy Neighbor” was paramount.
Fred Rogers underscored the violence in movies, television and video games flowing like lava penetrating the minds of children with hate and destruction in lieu of love and compassion.
Near the documentary’s end, he quotes the Hebrew phrase “Tikun Olam” the reparation of the world. The quote was addressed to everyone who cared enough to help make this a better world.
It is hoped that in the deep, subconscious minds of our politicians who have yet to overcome this era of social and political unrest, will remember the words of this mild mannered, gentle man and bring back a time when Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a place of comfort to visit and looked forward to return the very next day.
I would suggest that you purchase tickets, if you haven’t already, and visit Won’t You Be My Neighbor and say hello to Mister Rogers. He spoke from his heart to millions of viewers and planted a seed that he hoped would flourish and nurture in future generations.
4 Bagels out of 4
Jerry Cutler, the Courier’s film critic, is rabbi at Creative Arts Temple.