Judaism has always been a big part of my life from the time I was little, and I hoped the same would be true for my children. My children attend preschool at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham and have learned about Jewish holidays, tzedakahtaking care of others and the importance of celebrating Shabbat. I had heard about Parenting Through a Jewish Lens from friends who had taken it and decided it was finally time for me and my husband to participate.

Debbie Jacobs and her family (Courtesy photo)
Debbie Jacobs and her family (Courtesy photo)

Our class was made up of families we knew from the preschool, but it was a smaller group and therefore allowed for discussions in a more intimate setting. I remember learning about Shehecheyanu moments in our first class—appreciating the small things that happened within our family. For example, seeing our toddler sons bonding together, taking a family bike ride or a having nice dinner discussion. Our teacher, Hayley, taught us to look for these moments, notice them and remember them. This became especially helpful during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, which took place while our class was still meeting.

I found PTJL especially comforting during this crisis and looked forward to the monthly Zoom meetings. I really appreciate that Hayley and Hebrew College were able to adapt the program during this unprecedented situation, since we parents were feeling worried and overwhelmed.

The discussions during each meeting were thought-provoking, interesting and educational. I enjoyed reading various texts and hearing other parents share their viewpoints and family experiences. This class was a reminder that not only does Judaism focus on celebrating holidays, Shabbat and giving tzedakah, it also teaches us values to make daily life more meaningful. PTJL taught me how to reflect on myself, the values and traditions I want to share with my kids and the kind of home I create for my family.

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