On Sunday, June 3, Shevach High School’s eagerly anticipated annual Mother-Daughter Breakfast took place at the Young Israel of Hillcrest. A full house turned out to enjoy a spiritually uplifting morning, as well as a scrumptious spread.

The audience was completely attuned to Mrs. Jackie Bitton, who regaled them with her heartfelt words on the topic of Hakaras HaTov – Gratitude. This was a fitting culmination of the yearlong theme of Hakaras HaTov that Shevach introduced with its Yom Iyun and Shabbaton.

Mrs. Bitton explained that the feeling of gratitude and its verbal expression is not a natural emotion. We need to recognize the good that others do for us and train ourselves to express our appreciation. She noted that although gratitude may not be an automatic response, we are called Yehudim, from the root hodaah, which means gratitude. We can and must be a grateful people. In order to accomplish this, we have to put gratitude into our consciousness.

Mrs. Bitton then gave practical advice on how to achieve this. First, give others (and especially your children!) partial credit. Even if the end result is not as you would want it to be, focusing on the positive, even a small positive, encourages the child to pursue more positive actions. Second, focus on what you do have, and not on what is missing. The ability to shine the spotlight on the good will help the negative recede into the background. And finally, strive to go higher without putting others down. Since each and every one of us is a bas melech, a true princess, we should recognize and appreciate others’ strengths as well as our own.

Mrs. Bitton kept the audience riveted with captivating real-life examples. She spoke very emotionally about her close friend, Mrs. Gayle Sassoon, who although having gone through a personal holocaust with the loss of seven children in a house fire, maintains a tremendous simchas ha’chayim, and feelings of gratitude to Hashem for all the brachos in her life. Her vivid personification of Mrs. Sassoon’s attitude was a source of inspiration to all.

In an upbeat way, Mrs. Bitton succeeded in encouraging all who were present to live up to our names – Yehudim – in order to make a difference in our own lives and the lives of others.