Benjamin Samuels of Congregation Shaarei Tefillah in Newton is not only a long-time Parenting Through a Jewish Lens instructor, he is also one of the co-curriculum designers.
On the Wednesday morning following our Winter Break and the New Year, eleven members of our Parenting Through a Jewish Lens class of twenty-two, showed up at our usual time at Temple Beth Elohim of Wellesley. Fifty percent attendance turned out to be an amazing showing considering that Wednesday was not scheduled as a meeting day! Luckily, I too did not check my calendar, and I also came eager to study and schmooz about Jewish parenting. The Temple was phenomenal and secured our regular meeting space for us. Since we were a smaller group than usual, we decided to sit more informally in a circle in the available cushioned chairs. A large bin of toys arrived shortly thereafter, and given that we had no pre-arranged child-care, we invited those parents who had brought their children to have them play in the center. While I value every member of our class and regretted that we were missing half of our participants, as an instructor, I looked on our impromptu group of parents enthusiastic about their children’s Jewish upbringing with a teacher’s pride.
Not wanting to continue on with our regular curriculum absent full attendance, I decided to lead a conversation about what I like to call “The Architecture of a Jewish Home,” or in more heimish (homey) terms, “Jewish Feng Shui.” What I was inviting within our group was a conversation about how we utilize within our homes form and flow, i.e., Jewish symbols and behavioral patterns in space and time, to create an environment that orients and nurtures our family’s Jewish values and identity.