Monday, June 3, 2013

Our Final Class Wasn't So Final

A Needham family shares their long anticipated experience in Parenting Through a Jewish Lens and how their final class wasn't so final.

After six years of wanting to take Parenting Through a Jewish Lens we finally made it happen this year. The 10 week PTJL course at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham certainly lived up to our expectations. It gave us access to Jewish ideas and practices, an understanding of how these can inform our everyday lives, and a deeper appreciation for the things we were already doing in our homes. It allowed me and my husband a chance to explore the “why” not just the “what.”

Forging connections in the busy world of working and parenting can be challenging, but this class provided a perfect space to do so. Not only did we learn about the diversity of backgrounds among the participants, our facilitator, Ronit, brought her own story and warmth to the course. Yet in our 10 weeks together it felt like we were only skimming the surface. We had so much to discuss - so much on our minds as parents – and there was much from our discussions that we wanted to bring back to our homes. As a class, we decided to continue meeting even after the program wrapped up.

We thought it would be fitting to start with a get together and share something from home. My husband and I hosted a Saturday evening potluck (It was a miracle that we found a night that worked in everyone’s hectic schedules) and each couple brought a dish – from a novel carrot mint salad to a familiar, comforting dairy kugel. My husband loves to cook and made a knockout salmon dish that we all enjoyed.

Ronit came with cards, posters and a diverse sampling of sources to spur a conversation on Shabbat. We each picked an image that we connected to, explained why, and shared where we were in our practice. Our conversation uncovered the power of community – for some in the room Shabbat was a regular part of life, while  others are still figuring out if and how they might want it to be. We culminated with an inclusive, musical havdallah service.

For each of us in the class, going to the post-course meeting was a chance to demonstrate – with our feet and as well as with our kitchens – that we were committed to Jewish learning and to using it to inform our parenting. We each made time to have a conversation that mattered to us, and made time to keep up connections with our new friends. Taking the time to educate ourselves as Jewish parents provided an important gift to us as individuals that would ultimately benefit our whole family.

We are thrilled that the group is planning to continue getting-together for peer-led explorations of items we didn't fully have time for in the course (including the Ten Challenges by Felder). If the class provided us with a path of sound bites to follow as time and reality allowed, then we hope this offshoot will continue to nurture our paths. We’ll keep getting together to provide support for one another in Jewish learning – and parenting!

And … I hope you don’t wait as long as we did to sign up for this course.

PTJL Educator Ronit Ziv-Kreger and her family enjoying a fun moment

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