After spending the day immersed in Chasidic Jewish life and culture, television personality Oprah Winfrey concludes that Judaism’s focus on family life and on developing individuals’ innate potential offers a wealth of lessons for people all over the world.
Sharing her thoughts with the Judaism website Chabad.org, Winfrey – who toured Jewish homes and communal institutions in the New York neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Borough Park and Brooklyn Heights as part of her new “Oprah’s Next Chapter” show on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network – says that the greater world’s reliance on popular entertainment has caused society to lose focus on what really matters. In stark contrast to that trend are families like the Ginsbergs of Crown Heights, who, Winfrey notes, are not only not “plugged in,” but are just as happy as their secular counterparts.
“It’s amazing to me that you can raise children in this world and not have them” consume hours and hours watching television or texting friends or playing videogames, says Winfrey. “What’s gonna happen when people see this family and see that it’s possible that in the United States of America, in Brooklyn, you can have nine children and none of them are watching television, and none of them are on computers all day long, and none of them are sassing their parents, and they’re well-mannered and live in harmony with their families.”
During her visit to New York last fall, Winfrey sat down with two Jewish families, enjoyed a traditional meal, discussed communal affairs with five women and toured a Chabad-Lubavitch run Jewish ritual bath, known as a mikvah, in Brooklyn Heights.
“The moment I walked into the Ginsbergs’ home, I felt welcomed and I felt a sense of warmth, and I felt a sense of family and comfort and values,” details Winfrey. There’s a “sense of reverence for acknowledging that there [is] the power of G‑d that is greater than yourself.”
Winfrey’s entire interview can be seen on Jewish.TV, Chabad.org’s video site, by clicking here.
(Photo: George Burns / Harpo, Inc.)