July 9, 2019

I’ve seen two great documentaries this week, Pavarotti and Ask Dr. Ruth, and both left me feeling inspired and uplifted. The two subjects couldn’t be more different. One’s a tiny, Jewish sex therapist, who was orphaned during The Holocaust, and the other was a larger than life, Italian tenor who wowed the world with his legendary voice. What they both share though, is immense endurance and a voracious love for life. I’m always astounded by people, who despite tragedy and trauma, maybe even because of it, are able to achieve extraordinary things. Dr Ruth Westheimer was orphaned at ten. Her parents were both killed in The Holocaust. While training as a sniper for Jewish resistance fighters in Palestine she almost lost use of both her feet. And yet, she went on to regain full motion, move to America and find true love. Dr. Ruth is the most recognizable name in sexual therapy; she changed the zeitgeist and the lives of millions of people around the world. Pavarotti also faced adversity and sacrifice. At one point in the documentary, he speaks of his daughter’s illness, a rare disease that she eventually overcame, but that changed his outlook on life forever. In later years, even as his own health declined, Pavarotti worked tirelessly to bring opera to the masses. He is known as much for his philanthropic efforts as he is his voice. “He lived those songs,” said his good friend and collaborator, Bono. “the mistakes you’ve made, the hopes, the desires, all that comes crashing into the performance.” I asked my friend, Charlotte –– we watched Ask Dr. Ruth together –– what she felt that thing was, that element that pushes people forward, gives them hope, despite pain and loss. “I think it’s love,” she said. Ruth Westheimer spoke often in the film about her love for her parents and grandmother, how loved she felt, even in the short years she had with them. Pavarotti too came from a lot of love, with both his parents always championing his passions and career. “I think to love, and to receive love is fundamental to human growth. That she [Dr. Ruth] experienced love in her early years, may well have paved the way for who she is today.”


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