As a mom of two and a clinical psychologist, I am often engaging in, reading about or talking with others about parenting. However, in the hustle and bustle of parenting two young children, I had devoted little time to thinking consciously about how I wanted to infuse Judaism into our home. My children both attended the JCC for preschool, so they have had exposure over the last several years to Jewish holidays, Israel, the rituals of Shabbat and tzedakah. Having recently joined a synagogue and with both children in Hebrew school on Sunday morning, I took the opportunity to go back to “Hebrew school” myself to learn how to parent through a Jewish lens with Rabbi Philip Sherman at Temple Beth Elohim.
The parents in the class had children ranging from infants to elementary-school age. Some took the class with a partner and others as individuals. We represented a wide variety of professions, Jewish upbringings and Jewish identities.
Throughout the course we talked about ways to incorporate Judaism and Jewish values into our lives. The course touched on topics such as finding gratitude in parenting, creating meaningful routines and rituals and cultivating peace and respect in our homes. At the end of each week we explored concrete ideas for how to incorporate these concepts into our daily lives that reflect Jewish values (i.e. keeping a daily gratitude journal or choosing a cause to contribute to as a family chesed project, to more religious options like blessing our children as part of a Friday night Shabbat ritual).
My favorite exercise came at the end of the course, when we had the opportunity to create a blessing for our family and for our home guided by the values and topics discussed in the course. Below is the blessing I came up with:
May we be blessed with the capacity to find joy in each day and be able to share that joy with one another. May we build a home that allows for the expression and support of all emotions and opinions. May we be blessed with the ability to seek out and engage in those activities that make our life rich and meaningful, to be curious about ourselves, others and the world, and have the courage to explore our curiosities. May we be blessed with respect for each other. May our home be a haven for reconnecting with ourselves and one another, reinvigorating each of us to live our best life. May we be blessed with the comfort and support of one another in times of challenge, sickness or loss. May we be blessed with loving-kindness toward ourselves, each other and the world.
Before taking this course it would have never occurred to me to bring together these values in the form of a blessing. Creating this blessing has given me an opportunity to slow down, to reflect and to be more mindful of how I want to be as a parent and the kind of home I hope to create for my family.
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