We enter week three of counting the Omer with words from High School Senior, Joanna Gerber. With gratitude for Joanna’s thoughtful words, we hope this is a good week for everyone! – Hazzan Harold
by Joanna Gerber

When we hear “compassion,” we usually think of kindness, empathy, a way to support a loved one going through a hard time. Yet we rarely think of compassion in the context of how we should treat ourselves; even the dictionary defines it as “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.”

A constant challenge for me is to see myself as that “other.” Of course I can tell my friend she is beautiful on a day where she can’t stand to look in the mirror; of course I tell her that experiences she has or hasn’t gone through don’t define her. Yet I parrot back those same anxieties about myself– and somehow, I can’t give myself the same advice.

In Federico Garcia Lorca’s play Yerma, the title character despairs over her infertility, wanting nothing more than a child of her own. She begs an old woman for advice, and the old woman responds, “Who can say this body we’ve got isn’t beautiful?”

I too often say my body isn’t beautiful– but it seems only I do. From early childhood we’re taught to “treat others the way we want to be treated,” but no one tells us that we have a say in how we are treated. We choose how to treat ourselves, and too often, we choose wrong.

So try to think of yourself as someone “other.” You are no less beautiful, no less deserving of love, than anyone else. It’s easy to say this body we’ve got isn’t beautiful– but we have the power to tell ourselves– and believe– that it is.

It’s time we learn to speak to the mirror the way we speak to everyone else.