Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, November 26, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 13

Mountain Views-News Saturday, November 26, 2022 OPINIONOPINION 13 
Mountain Views-News Saturday, November 26, 2022 OPINIONOPINION 13 




Susan Henderson 


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello 


John Aveny 


Peter Lamendola 


Stuart Tolchin 
Audrey SwansonMeghan MalooleyMary Lou CaldwellKevin McGuire 
Chris Leclerc 
Bob Eklund 
Howard HaysPaul CarpenterKim Clymer-KelleyChristopher NyergesPeter Dills 
Rich Johnson 
Lori Ann Harris 
Rev. James SnyderKatie HopkinsDeanne Davis 
Despina ArouzmanJeff Brown 
Marc Garlett 
Keely TotenDan Golden 
Rebecca WrightHail Hamilton 
Joan Schmidt 
LaQuetta Shamblee 

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Don’t worry if you are unfamiliar with the word. I had 
never heard it spoken and thought I had made it up. I looked 
it up in the dictionary and somebody had beaten me to it. It is 
a Yiddish word meaning someone who has the qualities of a 
mensch. No surprise. Perhaps you are familiar with the word 
“mensch” which gets bandied around much like other Yiddish 
works like “schlep’ which has entered the language and 
commonly used without ever being defined. To me the word 
“mensch” has nothing to do with its derivation which undoubtedly 
comes from the German word meaning “men”.

To me the word is not limited by ethnicity, gender, age, 
or position in the world. In other words you don’t have to be Jewish, male, old, or rich to 
be a mensch. I thought of the word this morning as I attended Grandparents’ Day at my 
granddaughter’s new School. This is a School for age three to five year old preschoolers and 
is under the umbrella of Cal Tech and JPL or something that I don’t quite understand. The 
woman who welcomed the attending grandparents made an attempt to explain as talked 
about the purpose of the School. We learned that the School was not interested in early 
exposure to academics or accepted civility or the nurturing of any special talents. She said 
the School intended to foster a kind of self-discovery by its toddlers who were not expected 
to stay in line or nap quietly or meet the teacher’s expectations. She emphasized that the 
School was not simply intended as a place where the kids could be dropped off while their 
parents were off making a living while knowing that their kids were safe.

This School was about something else. It was something called self-discovery 
wherein each child would somehow learn to meet their own needs rather than the need of 
controlling teachers who tried to mold them into some acceptable form that pleased their 
parents or their teachers. The students were encouraged, or rather allowed to creativelyfind themselves and their own interests and abilities. Rather than having one teacher trying 
their best to control thirty kids, which is how I remember School, there were about one 
teacher-observer person for about every five kids. She used the word “holistic” as a way 
of explaining what went on. A grandparent asked if that meant “hands on” learning and 
wondered what particular curriculum was followed. The welcoming woman said that no 
particular curriculum was followed and she used the word “holistic” again. Before writing 
this article I looked up holistic education and learned that it is a “comprehensive approach 
to teaching where educators seek to address the emotional, social, ethical need of 
the student rather than just laying a strong foundation in a core curriculum in an attempt 
to develop a compassionate understanding of the world around them.”

I doubt that such language would have provided answers to questions of grandparents. 
Other questions were about safety, available medical services, privacy, and other 
things that parents and grandparents think about. During the morning as I watched about 
twenty five kids racing around in a large back yard as they rode scooters and tricycles and 
jumped from one place to another. My wife turned the pages of a book and pointed out 
animals and the sounds they made to my granddaughter who was interested for a while 
and then took off running. She found a scooter and then a tricycle and managed to fall off 
each one but seemingly unharmed picked herself up, righted the bike, and continued racing 
around not in line with any other kids but doing her own thing.

I could not help but thinking that my mother and grandmother, to use another 
common Yiddish word, would be “plotzing” if they witnessed such behavior. Even if you 
don’t know the word you can picture collapsing with strong annoyance or emotion. Oy, 
what if they get hurt or rip their clothes or worse yet, although never expressed that way, 
act in a way to embarrass us? What will the neighbors think? Today, my friends who are 
not dead are now retired and report that the thing they enjoy most is just trying to please 
themselves without anyone telling them what to do. Should it take a whole lifetime to find 
out that what one wants to do is to decide for oneself. 

Looking at all of those kids this morning I wondered what I really wanted for each 
of them. What I wanted for them in my terms is for each of them to grow to be a mensch. 
A mensch to me is a person of honor and integrity who behaves not to impress others or to 
avoid criticism or to be successful. It is the outer expression inner qualities of character, 
rectitude, dignity, a personal sense of what is right and responsible. These are the qualities 
one would hope for in a friend and describes someone with a sense of compassion who 
reminds all of us why humans are of value.

The word “rachmones’ which is the Yiddish word for compassion is a quintessential 
word that lies at the heart of Jewish thought. We have to care but we have to do more 
than care. We have to know what is right and do it. Maybe if teachers and traditional education 
and traditional parental needs don’t get in the way our younger generations might 
have a chance. Wouldn’t that be nice? 


When it comes to sappy holiday movies, you either scorn them as 
you would another pair of reindeer-themed socks, or you eagerlybinge on offerings such as “My Southern Family Christmas,” 
produced by Hallmark and described thusly: 

“Under the guise of a journalist, Campbell has a chance to get to 
know her biological father for the first time — without him ever 
knowing who she really is. … Campbell must decide if she’s going 
to keep her identity a secret or reveal the truth to her father 
— a decision that will change their family Christmas forever.” 

You can’t make this stuff up. Well, actually, you can if you work at Hallmark, which 
for the third straight year has managed to produce a cache of 40 highly-profitable 
holiday movies. Since imitation is the sincerest form of television (a line credited to 
Fred Allen), it’s not surprising that 27 different networks and streamers have jumped 
in this year and combined to produce a record number of largely lookalike holidayfilms. The industry-wide total is a remarkable 158. 

For Hallmark, it’s the most wonderful time of year in terms of ratings and revenue. 
I estimate that the company spends a bit over $100 million to produce its Christmas 
films, many of which are shot in Canada to reduce costs. The Hallmark Channel 
reportedly reaps about one-third of its annual revenue from the 40 projects, or about 
$350 million, and this year it partnered with NBC to stream its movies on Peacock. 

Leading the pack in popularity so far is “Falling for Christmas” on Netflix, which 
was gifted with more than 31 million views in its first four days. The draw probablyisn’t the tired plot (a woman with amnesia falls for a handsome stranger at Christmas) 
but rather the return of actress Lindsay Lohan after years away from the screen. 

The upstart Great American Family channel produced 18 Christmas films this year 
and managed to stir some controversy. The service is run by Bill Abbott, a former 
Hallmark exec, who lured one of holiday filmmaking’s biggest stars, Candace Cameron 
Bure, away from Hallmark to produce and star in Christmas movies that were 
less secular than the sort Hallmark favors. “I knew that the people behind Great 
American Family were Christians that love the Lord,” Bure said in an interview, “and 
wanted to promote faith programming and good family entertainment.” 

Hallmark, meanwhile, is aggressively broadening its holiday storytelling and next 
month will offer “The Holiday Sitter,” its first Christmas film with an LGBT love 
story. Bure caused a fuss on social media after saying she isn’t keen on such themes. 

The Lifetime channel is releasing 26 holiday titles this season. My favorite, at least 
based on the blurb, is “Santa Bootcamp,” in which an event planner named Emily is 
sent off to holiday bootcamp and meets “a drill sergeant with a heart of gold, who 
helps Emily rediscover the magic of Christmas and find romance along the way.” 

Even the shopping channel QVC has produced a holiday film, “Holly and the Hot 
Chocolate,” about a food critic who finds herself stuck in the small town of Pine Falls 
at Christmas. But wait, there’s more! QVC is selling a special hot chocolate in partnership 
with gourmet retailer Serendipity. 

How much holiday film fluff can viewers handle? So far, ratings are substantial, ad 
revenue is robust, and currently — perhaps due to economic and political malaise 

— the appetite appears almost limitless for formulaic fare that seems to get viewers 
where they want to go. 
The frenzy is so great that TV is even making a Christmas movie about making aChristmas movie. “When a holiday rom-com movie shooting in her town needs a 
costume designer, Kerry, a local shop owner, steps into the role,” says the blurb. “She 
rediscovers her passion for costume design and finds herself falling for Brad, the 
film’s famous leading man.” 

Hallmark calls this film, “Lights, Camera, Christmas!” which pretty much sums up 
the holiday viewing season. 

Peter Funt’s new memoir, “Self-Amused,” is now available at 



 Aren’t we all looking for gift suggestions 
for those hard to buy for 

Well, I stumbled on a unique bit of information detailing gift 
purchases from world leaders to world leaders. Did you know foreign 
countries give gifts to other foreign countries? Diplomatic 

 Most of you know the country of France gave us the Statue 
of Liberty in 1886 ba-sically thanking us for rebelling against the 
British and winning the war of Inde-pendence. The statue of Liberty 
is really a statue of the Roman Goddess of Free-dom, Libertas.

 Yearly since 1947, Norway has sent a 20+ meter (65 feet tall) high 
spruce tree to the United Kingdom where it stands in Trafalgar 
Square for the Christmas season. This is Norway’s way of thanking 
the British for helping them resist the Nazi’s in World War II. 
Norway fell to the Nazis and the British gave the Norwegian exiled 
government refuge where they could organize resistance against 
the Nazis. 

Red China gifted the National Zoo in Washington D.C. with 
two giant pandas fol-lowing the groundbreaking 1972 trip to Red 
China by then President Nixon. 

British King George VI commissioned a sword to be created for 
Joseph Stalin, the leader of Russia. Why? Because Stalin led the 
Russians in a five month battle, we now referred to as the Battle 
of Stalingrad. This was the first major defeat by the Germans and 
their co-conspirators.

 On a smaller note the Commander of Egypt in 1827 gave French 
King Charles X a giraffe trying to persuade the King of France to 
support the Turks in the Greek War of Independence. Apparently, 
the French people went crazy for the giraffe.

 When the Obama family visited Australia in 2011 the Australian 
Northern Territory Administration gifted the Obamas, crocodile 
insurance. I found out the Presi-dent is not allowed to accept gifts 
that exceed $390. That bit of information might come in handy 

 Speaking of reptiles the Indonesian government, in 1986, offered 
President Reagan two Komodo dragons. President Reagan 
probably determined roaming the halls of the White House was 
not a good idea, the Komodo dragons were pre-sented to the National 
Zoo down the street from the White House. Realizing for 
dragons were males, a third female was later lent to the zoo and off-
springs of the original Komodo family still roam the National Zoo.

 Russian Dictator Josef Stalin gifted North Korea Dictator Kim 
Il Sung with a bullet-proof limousine. Dictator Sung considered 
Dictator Stalin’s gift to be a thoughtful gift. No kidding! 

If you haven’t made New Year’s Eve plans, my band, JJ Jukebox 
is performing at a New Year’s Eve party at Nano Café in Sierra 
Madre. We would love to bring in 2023 with you and yours. If interested 
contact the restaurant, (626) 325-3334 for reservations. 

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285