The topic for our Parenting Through a Jewish Lens class was spirituality. I knew that this would be a difficult, yet important topic to teach. As part of the class, we read an extended excerpt about encouraging God talk with your children from Danny Gordis’ book, Becoming a Jewish Parent: How to explore Spirituality and Tradition With Your Children.
I believe that Jewish parents, to paraphrase John Lennon and Yoko Ono, should at least “give God a chance.” That doesn’t mean we have to be sure about God, or that having our doubts makes us bad or incompetent Jewish parents. Hardly. But it does mean that some of our doubts and some of our difficulties with God may be the result of how we were raised; we should give our kids the chance to believe and to feel things that still may be hard for us.
All too commonly, parents are willing to discuss politics, morality, sex, and virtually everything under the sun with their kids, but not God. For many children, this creates a sense that Judaism is ultimately not the place to do their spiritual wondering and wandering. As they grow older, this becomes one of the major obstacles to continued Jewish connection. That’s not what we want for our children; we want Judaism to be their base, so we need to try to raise them with a Jewish world that can meet as many of their spiritual needs as possible as they grow, mature, and change.
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