Thanks to the Charleston JCC Without Walls Filmfest, our family had put this movie on our calendar as soon as we heard it was coming to Charleston. (I think we had our tickets two days later. I was NOT going to miss this!) But there are still more opportunities to see the movie — it will be playing at the Terrace Theater for at least another week — and I really hope you will. Common Sense Media says the film is appropriate and recommended for ages 10 and up, and the opportunities to “add on Judaism” to your family’s viewing are abundant!
DON’T GET ANGRY
RBG shares that half of her mother’s advice to her was: Don’t get angry. At least that was RBG’s intepretation of the advice to “be a lady.” (The second half of the advice was to be independent.) The Talmud (Pesachim 66b) records the sage Resh Lakish as saying: “Any person who becomes angry, his wisdom departs from him; if he is a prophet, his prophecy departs from him.” Proverbs 16:32 teaches: “He who is slow to anger is better than a strong man, and he who masters his passions is better than one who conquers a city.”
Discuss as a family:
- How do you interpret these teachings from Jewish tradition? How do you think this lesson from RBG’s mother has served her well in her career?
- When have you “held your tongue” — how did you do it? What was the result? When have you allowed yourself to get angry — what did you do or say? What was the result?
- How might you help the practice of not reacting with anger become a habit?
Much has been made of the unlikely friendship between Justices RBG and Antonin Scalia, and rightfully so — they were ideologically opposed in so many ways, yet truly enjoyed one another’s company and shared a deep, abiding, mutual respect.
- Take a look at the archetypal “odd couple” of Jewish history: Hillel and Shammai. In almost all cases, they were on opposite sides of an issue. Yet, tradition tells us there was abiding respect, and the rulings of both are preserved because “each has its time and place.” The children’s book, The Shema in the Mezuzah: Listening to Each Other, is a great teaching about one of their disputes.
Can’t make it to the movie? Or want to continue to learn about RBG? Read I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark. (If you’re signed up for PJLibrary — and if you have children you should be signed up for PJLibrary!; you can do so here — then you most likely received this book last year.) Read the book as a family, but then also…
- Keep the book somewhere where you’ll remember to read it the next time you’re the Parent Reader in your child’s class!
- Check out this curriculum guide put together by the ADL when I Dissent was selected as their Book of the Month.
MAKING IT PERSONAL
At a couple of points during the film, my son leaned over and, noting the date of a particular court case, realized it was the year I was born or the year his dad was born. (Let the record show the latter is waaaaaay before the former.) But in those moments what seemed like ancient history — women couldn’t attend a public college? women in the military didn’t get the same benefits as men? — became as recent and as real as it is.
- Make a timeline of the significant cases in RBG’s career AND make a timeline of your own family members, and see where the two overlap. Interview some of your family members who were adults when RBG was fighting cases against sex discrimination before the Supreme Court. What do they remember about that time period?
- We also loved hearing RBG’s granddaughter call her grandmother Bubbe. Superheroes can be Bubbes and Bubbes can be superheros — superheroines — too. What special accomplishments have some of the women you know and love achieved? Ask them what they’re most proud of. Ask them about some of the challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve overcome them.