In the four months that Jenny Small has been taking Parenting Through A Jewish Lens
(Ikkarim) at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham she has “bonded” with her teacher and
her classmates – their conversations are having a ripple effect on her life at home.
When she gets home, Jenny debriefs with her husband and “gets his take” on the topic.
As a result, they have begun incorporating new practices into their family life. “I signed
up for Ikkarim because I wanted to get out of the house, but also because I wanted my
family to be more conscious of what we’re doing,” Jenny explains. They recently started
to say havdallah together as a family to ceremoniously end the Shabbat, and their kids
enjoy holding the candle and the spice box. “It was fun to try something new.”
After each class, Jenny’s six-and-a-half-year-old daughter asks her about her Ikkarim
homework. “It would be hard to bring up a topic from class out of the blue with her, but
since she gets homework at school, she in interested in what my homework is.” This has
given them the opportunity to talk about issues such as refraining from gossip and taking
care of other people. Her two-and-a-half-year-old son has no interest in homework but
has enjoyed one of her assignments. “We used to be really haphazard about saying the
shema with him during bedtime rituals. But after we talked about this ritual in my class
we’ve been remembering to do it every night, and he has gotten really into it, singing
every word along with us.”
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