Last Sunday afternoon, our 3-½ year old, Nora, put on her favorite dress-up clothes (Snow White Dress, butterfly wings, fairy wand), stood up on a chair, and began to sing “Shabbat Shalom” into her toy microphone.
“Mommy,” she asked, “Is today Shabbat?”
“No,” Jessie answered, “But you can practice the song if you’d like.”
She continued joyously, welcoming our dog, our fish, the sofa, her dolls, and us to Shabbat. One of the most exciting things for us about the year in which we finally took Parenting Through a Jewish Lens (Ikkarim) is that it so closely matched Nora’s first year of identifying, and appreciating, the Jewish rituals in our lives. She has met each one with a delight and curiosity that is invigorating and exciting. We feel even more equipped to nurture this after ten sessions with Rabbi David Jaffe at Temple Hillel B’nai Torah in West Roxbury.
Our Parenting Through a Jewish Lens class created an important rhythm for our family life over its 10-class span. As a couple, it gave us a cherished 90-minutes to reflect together upon things we rarely get to in our daily lives. At a baseline, we dove into topics that challenged us to consider what it means to be a parent and our hopes and dreams for our children. The structure allowed us to dig deeper, too, to think about what we personally hope to teach our children and what we most want to pass along to help them define themselves spiritually and religiously. The curriculum beautifully wove together parenting and religious topics with a diversity of Jewish texts and commentaries, many new to us, reminding us of the richness of Jewish learning.
For us, Parenting Through a Jewish Lens was an important step in our journey as a couple and a family. It was also a reminder that there is still so much more to do, and to learn, as we blaze our path. We finished the course feeling energized, refreshed, and eager to take our next step.
We are thrilled about this next step, which, as it turns out, is a continuation of our Parenting Through a Jewish Lens involvement. Beginning this month we will be co-chairing the new Parenting Through a Jewish Lens Recruitment Committee, a gathering of alumni who will help the program reach even more parents and families. We received a great gift through the program, and are excited about helping bring it to more people.
We’d love to have you join us in this new venture. There is still time to join the Committee (just contact Elisha Gechter at Hebrew College at firstname.lastname@example.org). If you are an alumnus of the program but the Committee is more than you can do, we hope you will take some time over the next six months to reach out to someone new and let them know about Parenting Through a Jewish Lens. And if you haven’t taken the course yet, we encourage you to do so in 2012 – both parenting and Judaism are lifelong learning journeys, and this is a great year to give a boost to both.
Jessie & Eric Boatright