We first connected with Parenting Through a Jewish Lens (PTJL) when our twins were infants. At the time, we were floundering, as all new parents do, and wanted people to share in our support while also drawing strength from our shared faith.

A few years later, we are facing a new slate of challenges with 5-and-a-half-year-olds, and have made a new set of friends in our second go-round. In the process, we have not only come to see that other parents (both Jewish and otherwise) have challenges and need support, but that such challenges go back to stories of the progenitors of our people.

While many of the couples are from “traditional” Jewish backgrounds, PTJL has also opened our eyes and hearts to intermarried families, same-sex couples and other people we might not otherwise have met and with whom we might not otherwise have bonded. Our class at Temple Beth Shalom meets on Sundays from 5-6:30 p.m. While we share our tsuris (Yiddush for troubles) upstairs, our children socialize with pizza in the classrooms below, making PTJL a welcomed and looked-forward-to event for all involved!

While we have garnered much wisdom and insights from the class, one in particular stands out—the session on how to discuss religion with children. While our children are already strong in their faith and proud to be Jewish (often attending evening minyan at our synagogue with us and participating in many other events, even if pizza is not in the offing), we want them to engage and appreciate people from other backgrounds and faiths.

That is another reason why the diversity of this group is so enriching. Even though the lens may be Jewish, not all the people looking through it are (or, at least, were not always so). As such, the range of perspectives and ideas that are discussed and shared is broad and rich and helps put our issues in perspective in more ways than one. At the same time, however, the Jewish “lens” acts as a unifying theme. It brings these many ideas and perspectives together, and offers a source of inspiration and strength to Jewish parents struggling to deal with modern life and the blessings of children.

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