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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg
While you're in your Mr. Rogers feels, a few things to remind you about his radical theology. 1/x He was a Presbyterian minister whose life’s work was built almost entirely (if not entirely) around Leviticus 19:18 (Love your neighbor as yourself.) Hence... the neighborhood.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
That looked like this: “To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now." Rev. Fred Rogers
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
It looked like this: King Friday Establishes Border Guard -- The very first episode in 1968, while the Vietnam War was raging. Just addressed the thing head-on.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
As swimming pool integration became a major issue, he washed his and François Clemmons/Officer Clemmons' feet together in a kiddie pool. Presumably the good Rev. Rogers was fully holding the Christian meaning of footwashing in his choices.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
"What does assassination mean?" after the murder of RFK in 1968. Again, naming true things and simply holding space to let children deal with them--rather than trying to hide or minimize or gaslight because it seems too hard.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
It should also be noted that Francois Clemmons was gay. Rev. Rogers told him to stay away from gay bars at the time (late 60s/early 70s) because he knew that if that got out, he wouldn't be able to stay on a children's TV show. It seems homophobic now but times were different.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
I see this as a gesture of love and trying to protect Clemmons and his livelihood, and role on the show. And of course that came with a price. But he didn't ask Clemmons to deny his gayness, just not to get "caught" publicly, as that ruined many a career (outside kids' TV!) then.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
Rev. Rogers has been quoted as saying, “Well, you know, I must be right smack in the middle. Because I have found women attractive, and I have found men attractive.” Bisexual icon? Just a believer in radical truth? I don't know.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
But the entirety of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood can be summed up as: Cultivate empathy. Be curious. It’s ok to have hard feelings. And most of all, love your neighbor as yourself. I think this is all a theological stance. About who we are, and who God is.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
I believe Fred Rogers tried to love each and every one of us the way he believed God loves each and every one of us. I believe he saw his job as looking with a loving, empathetic eye at another and saying, as God did to Adam in the garden, "Ayeka?" Where are you?
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
And that his job was to wait patiently for, and to make open space for, the answer: Heneni. Here I am. Wouldn't surprise me if he was a fan of Buber, of I-Thou, of all of me welcoming the encounter with all of you.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
Here's some of his work aimed at grownup. You can just YouTube for his commencement speeches and get fuel for your soul for days. This is another beautiful investigation of Leviticus 19:18, the cornerstone of all his work.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
He sounds just like he does on the TV show, right? No major difference in how he is speaking to adults and children, as a TV star or honored keynoter. Because he was fully integrated, the same guy everywhere he was. There are no sides. There is just him. Heneini. Here I am.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
"Deep down, we know what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win, too. Even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and again." From the commencement speech. Really: Listen.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
The implications of Rev. Rogers teachings on our society are truly radical. The things he offered to children--to people--were radical for our society. Radical activism looks like a lot of things. Find your way to make the world more whole and more just. And say: Heneni.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
Know that you are loved. Now go out there and do something that shows how loving your neighbor as yourself can manifest.
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Rachel Weingarten Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
How long have you studied this til you came to this realization? It's fascinating! Well done you.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @rachelcw
I mean, I saw the documentary 10 years after ordination and then it was stunningly obvious.
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Rachel Weingarten Jul 22
Replying to @TheRaDR
Beautiful that it was so clear to you. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us!
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Jul 22
Replying to @rachelcw
❤️🙏❤️
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Lily Baldwin Jul 23
Replying to @TheRaDR @rachelcw
When my 2 year turned to me and said " Mom, Mr. Rogers REALLY loves me", he won me over. I always thought he was silly before, being a cynic. Glad I wrote and told him ( he wrote back).
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