In a well-known mishnah in Pirkei Avot, Hillel says, “Do not separate yourself from the community. In Gilmore Girls, the residents of Stars Hollow take this teaching to heart. The residents of the town support Lorelai as she raises Rory alone in the tight-knit community. Everyone checks in on everyone else and does favors, such as cat sitting, moving Rory to college, and fixing Lorelei’s house or the Dragonfly Inn. Town meetings and fundraisers exemplify the sense of community in Stars Hollow.
Family is at the core of Gilmore Girls and can be summed up with the quip, “You can’t live with them, you can’t live without them.” As much as Lorelei has had difficulty with her parents, Emily and Richard, in the past, their connection is never broken and their commitment to each other shines through. Whether paying for Rory’s education or reviewing the week during Friday night dinners, the Gilmores’ lives are intertwined and supportive of each other. “Even when they argue to the point where they seem unable to reconcile, the pull of family always brings them back. Judaism teaches us the same through Joseph and his brothers. Even though his brothers throw him in a pit and sell him into slavery, the family is able to work their way back together.”
Although the Gilmores are not Jewish, their Friday night dinners show us the power of a Friday night dinner ritual. They weren’t celebrating Shabbat but if you closed your eyes, the sounds of the family gathering on a weekly basis, eating a festive meal together, and reconnecting after a long week, would be reminiscent of a Shabbat dinner. As Rabbi Rosenthal says, “Sure, they aren’t actually celebrating Shabbat, but they are showing us that ritual works well when it is consistent, when people stick to it even when it is inconvenient.”
Maimonides, in the the Mishneh Torah, explains the steps of true repentance. Acknowledge one’s mistakes, making restitution, and not doing it again in the future. These steps require honesty, humility, and hard work. In “Gilmore Girls” the characters argue, get angry with each other, and work their way through it, much in the manner that the Rambam describes. Rabbi Rosenthatl says, “ Likewise, Judaism teaches that we must go to the person we have hurt and ask their forgiveness. It is a long road for Lorelai and her parents and, in later seasons, for Lorelai and Rory. But they always find their way back by asking for and granting forgiveness from one another.”
Woven into the fabric of Judaism is the concept of gratitude. Whether through prayer or appreciation of others, gratitude is a core Jewish value. The Talmud even says that when the time comes that certain types of worship will not take place, there will always be a need for the Thanksgiving offering or prayer. The importance of gratitude is a hallmark of “Gilmore Girls” as well. As Rabbi Rosenthal says, “If you didn’t cry when Rory gave her valedictorian speech at Chilton, well, you may not have a heart. The sincere expression of gratitude for her mother, her grandparents, and her life is an amazing expression of thanks. Judaism teaches: Who is rich, one who is happy with her portion.”