Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Learning from My Students

As I listened to PTJL participants sharing their favorite "family moments," a Rabbi Akiva quote came to mind: "From all my teachers have I learned and from my students more than all." 

This insight applies not only to the student/teacher relationship but also to our more intimate relationships. At home with our kids, with our spouses, with other relatives, and with friends, this teaching offers an invitation. 

It reminds us to create opportunities to learn about and from others--to make space for listening; to listen well and in between the lines. 

Sabrina Burger has taught for Parenting Through a Jewish Lens for many years, as well as for other community learning programs. In her teaching she loves to integrate Torah, art and parenting skills.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Creating Community

Community can develop in many ways and in many places. Many of us are part of numerous communities. We have our family community, our professional communities, possibly our children’s school communities. Sometimes, a community forms in our neighborhoods. Regarding our Parenting Through a Jewish Lens class, a community is slowly, but surely, developing in a living room on a side street in Cambridge. 

We shared bits of ourselves at our first session after the infamous Halloween snowstorm. A great way to begin building memories! We each shared what we felt comfortable sharing – some of us tentatively sticking our toes in, some of us jumping in quickly and deeply. We found surprising connections among us, discovering some shared past experiences. We also realized the many ways in which we were each different, each individual. 

Margie Bogdanow (front row, second from the right)
with fellow Parenting Through a Jewish Lens instructors
What initially brought our group together was a belief in the value of spending some precious Sunday time exploring the concept of “Parenting Through a Jewish Lens.” As the weeks have gone by, our connective “threads” are multiplying and strengthening. With this, our group of separate individuals is also becoming a new community of one. We spend time together learning, laughing, and even shedding tears. This week we will share in a havdalah ceremony and I suspect that the sights, sounds and smells of this wonderful ritual marking the separation of the holy (Shabbat) from the mundane (the work week) will add yet more threads to our developing community.

Margie Bogdanow has worked for over thirty years with parents and educators in a variety of settings. She currently serves as a consultant to the Youth Educator Initiative of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and lives in Cambridge, MA.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Parents Respecting Their Parents

“I can’t remember – I just knew.” 

“In our family, the way it worked was my dad would say, ‘You can’t talk to your mother that way.’” 

“We lived near my grandparents so I watched how my parents treated them.” 

Judy and the PTJL class at Mayyim Hayyim in Newton
These are some of the responses to the question:  In your family of origin, how did you learn to respect your parents?  In this weeks Parenting Through a Jewish Lens course at Mayyim Hayyim we sat around a table for an hour and a half, eating mini-muffins and dried figs, and engaging with each other about what the 5th commandment (to honor your mother and father) means for us as adult children and as parents of young children. 

We wondered together about how one honors parents in the face of wanting to parent differently than our parents did.  And in other cases, how to do for our own kids as our parents did for us.  Reflecting on how we were parented gives us a platform to view and make sense of our families of origin with a new lens.  It’s the starting place for our own decision making as parents. 

And as we laughed at ourselves, at our childhood experiences and our challenges in parenting even that morning, or cried from past hurts, we formed a community, united by the deep desire to raise healthy children who will yes, one day respect not only us but themselves and others.

Judy Elkin, a long-time Jewish educator and a certified personal and professional coach, is teaching in Parenting Through a Jewish Lens for the second year in a row.