“To look at me you would never know what I was going through”. This is a quote from My online bat mitzvah student’s speech at her bat mitzvah that I officiated referring to her struggles with mental health issues – specifically OCD. We have all heard the expression never judge a book by its cover which can mean so many things like don’t judge a person for being intellectual or not based on the kind of clothes that they are wearing. I’m reminded of the Will Smith movie Pursuit of Happiness where he is the most brilliant applicant for a stock brokers job but initially he is denied because he is homeless and shows up for the interview without a shoe.
Don’t judge a book by its cover also means with for my student, just because she’s smiling on the outside doesn’t mean she isn’t suffering terribly on the inside with obsessive thoughts. As part of her online bat mitzvah training and online Jewish education, we learned about spreading kindness and goodness. For my student, this means that when you find out that someone you know is struggling with mental health issues you go out of your way to approach them, befriend them and you try to lessen their burden by being sympathetic, empathetic and caring. As part of my Jewish education, this is one of the themes my student learned as she prepared for her special day. It was an honor for me officiate her Bat Mitzvah.
“Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.” – Jackie Chan