Why Are We Analyzing Children’s Movies?

Dear Editor:

 I’m writing regarding Izzo Zwiren’s article, “When Disney Changing Its Tune” that was published on January 1, 2020. As I read the article, I couldn’t help but think, “WHAT?” Disney has always been driven by princess power. (Now it’s changing its ways with all the shows and movies that it puts out because society has changed since the 1950s.) But how can Mr. Zwiren compare Elsa to real-life children? Movies are fantasies, especially the Princess movies. I was raised on Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine, Snow White, and the rest of the princesses. Every little girl wants to be a princess (except Meghan Markle, apparently). After watching a princess movie, I didn’t think I had a fairy godmother, and I didn’t think that I would find my husband just by looking at him and having our eyes meet and birds singing. I didn’t think that an evil sorcerer/sea witch/stepmother…would try to destroy me and my happiness. I watched the movies because they were sweet, had a song that I would sing for weeks on end, and always had a happy ending.

I don’t think today’s’ generation is looking at Elsa and saying, “Hmmm, she let it go and left to live in her ice castle and now in this movie Elsa is contemplating it again. Maybe I should run away, too, because I have responsibilities I don’t like.” This is a cartoon computer-generated movie! Elsa has magical powers, she’s a princess… If you think about it, a few Disney princesses wanted to run away in some way; Ariel wanted to be a part of Eric’s world, Belle wanted to escape her ordinary provincial life in her village, as well. But let’s remember that Ariel, Belle, are Snow White are all 16 and are cartoons. There are no mermaids, beasts, or evil stepmother queens trying to poison us with an apple. Why can’t a cartoon be just that: a movie that children and their parents enjoy watching?

Mr. Zwiren, you wrote that the Frozen “film franchise is actively training children to shirk responsibilities and run away from problems, instead of instilling a sense of personal accountability in children.” I beg to differ. If you want to delve deep into the movie and be Rashi, then let’s go a step further. I thought the movie was all about sisterly love. Elsa returned to help undo what she did accidentally, and Anna’s ice melted because her sister Elsa professed her love for her and embraced her. This act made me tear up. It wasn’t teaching that a Princess needs a Prince to save her; but it taught me how important love is in a family. And in the end, the Princesses – all of them – end up doing the right thing. Why? Because it’s a DISNEY MOVIE and not real life. All is tied up in a bow at the end so kids can be happy and imagine that type of world for themselves.

When you have walked a mile in Elsa’s shoes, then judge her actions and words. Until you have superpowers and are dealing with Elsa’s life situation, then “let it go.” I’m surprised that you didn’t refer to schizophrenia when Elsa is referring to the voices in her head. Why are we analyzing everything? I’m sorry my children will not have the innocence of growing up in a pre-September 11 world. But why do kids have to learn a lesson with everything they watch and hear today? Why can’t they just enjoy mindless fun and animation for an hour and a half? The world is a scary place: protests, bombs, fires, floods… even when I change the channel from the news to a cooking show when my four-year-old walks into the room, she catches a few seconds of the news story. She still knows what is going on in the world. She hears and sees police and fire vehicles with their sirens. She sees people yelling in the street. We can’t shield children from everything, but we can give them a short while to forget about the scary stuff and imagine a different world. Elsa has issues just like the rest of us. She is trying to figure out the best solution for her and everyone – just as kids should be doing.

I think you took the movie and the article too far. Let kids be kids and not look for hidden meanings behind everything.


A Jewish Princess :)


Respect Intellectual Property

 Dear Editor:

 We would like to point out what we believe to be an insensitivity in the Orthodox community concerning intellectual property. We see this manifested on an annual basis, particularly in the weeks preceding the Super Bowl.

The term “Super Bowl” and its associated logos are trademarks. They cannot be used in advertisements without the express permission of the National Football League.

Permission is usually granted as part of sponsorship deals in exchange for large sums of money.

This year, as in past years, there will be many kosher establishments advertising specials for well-meaning fans who wish to feast while watching a team other than the Patriots take home the Lombardi trophy. However, using the term “Super Bowl” and any associated logos is inappropriate and is definitely not kosher.

Mayer W. and Ruby M.



Recovery and Hope from the Daf

 Dear Editor:

 Like so many others, I left MetLife Stadium after the Siyum HaShas, celebrating the culmination of the 13th study cycle of Daf Yomi, ready to take on the world, or at least the 2,711 pages of the Babylonian Talmud. Having spent four hours at the Siyum, it was nearly impossible not to catch “Daf Yomi fever,” and when Sunday, January 5, dawned, crisp and cold, I sat down with my chavrusa and we began learning the opening words of the first of the 63 tractates of the Talmud. Like so many others, I found myself wondering why the Talmud starts with a discussion of the mitzvah of K’rias Sh’ma and segues into a story about Rabban Gamliel’s sons coming home quite late after attending a “beis mishteh,” described by the Rambam as an exclusive wine party. Asked by his sons if the time to recite the nightly k’rias Sh’ma had already passed, Rabban Gamliel replied that they were still able to perform the mitzvah, an answer that had me contemplating what hidden messages might be found in the words of the Talmud and its many commentaries.

We know that we recite the Sh’ma as an acceptance of ol malchus shamayim, our complete subservience to G-d in everything we do, a concept that, in the terminology of the recovery world, would be the equivalent of surrendering to a higher power. Considering the question posed by Rabban Gamliel’s sons, and his reply through the prism of recovery, sent shivers down my spine, because it echoes the work that Amudim does, helping those challenged by abuse and addiction.

We wake up every morning and say Sh’ma, accepting G-d’s supreme sovereignty with the understanding that while there are times in life that we might make mistakes, we always have the ability to start anew. Before going to sleep at night, we say Sh’ma once again, reiterating our unwavering commitment to the One Above, taking with us the message that every day is a new opportunity, and that even when we are struggling, there is a G-d in heaven who gives us the strength and ability to carry on.

The fact that the greatest set of Hebrew texts passed down through the generations begins with this concept was to me, personally, a resounding message of hope to all those out there who are working hard to maintain their sobriety. As we begin the 14th worldwide study cycle of Daf Yomi, it is inspiring to realize that while it was written centuries ago, the Talmud was and is very much cognizant of the realities of life.

The fact that we start every day saying k’rias Sh’ma, accepting G-d as a higher power, is a reminder that every morning brings with it the chance for a fresh start. And the fact that we conclude each night in the exact same way provides a beacon of light to those who are struggling, and a reminder that with G-d in our lives, new beginnings are not just possible, but are ours for the taking.

Zvi Gluck


The Time For Empty Words Is Over

 Dear Editor:

 Senseless anti-Semitic attacks continue to be perpetrated against our brothers and sisters day after day. Our community continues to grieve the horrible tragedy that took place in Monsey one week ago. As usual, the media rushed to pronounce that this was not a “hateful” attack, but rather one borne of mental illness. Despite the empty words by Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, the assailant was not charged with a hate crime by New York, and it took the Federal authorities to step in and charge him with a hate crime. The knee-jerk “thoughts and prayers” from our politicians and celebrities were predictably hollow, and were forgotten long-before the next anti-Semitic attack (which happened in less than 48 hours). According to the Anti-Defamation League, there have been 36 anti-Semitic incidents in New York since November 1, and 14 in the New York area within the last two weeks alone, all involving assaults or threatened violence. Compare this with the [only] 19 hate-crime felony assault complaints recorded by the NYPD through the first three quarters of 2019.

The time for empty words is over. We need leaders who will actually fight to keep us safe, and who will fight to impose the harshest of penalties for those who would seek to do us harm. It is clear that nothing will be accomplished at the State level. Accordingly, this upcoming election, I will be running for Congress in NY’s 5th Congressional District. Jews need to have more Orthodox representation at the highest levels of government, leaders who will fight for the issues that are most important to our community. This past week, as the Chanukah candles flickered their last lights, and we started looking forward to Purim, I was reminded that one Jew in the right position of government can save all of klal Yisrael from utter destruction. Regardless of background or affiliation, I hope that in the coming months you will all stand with me in this important endeavor. If you would like to learn more information on how you can volunteer or donate to my campaign, please visit charlesmerrillforcongress.com.


Charles Merrill