Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Journey with Raising Jewish Children by Jackie Krendel

The day my son was born was the day my world changed.  My world is now all about him and my daughter, who was born 3 years later.  Seeing them both for the first time melted my heart as well as my husband’s.  We were both excited and anxious about the new journey we were beginning together.  During their first years, it was amazing seeing how much they changed each month.  We wondered when they would sit up, crawl, what their first word would be, and what their personalities would be like.  For me, since I am an Episcopalian, I also had so many questions about how to raise Jewish children.

Before our kids were born, we celebrated the High Holidays, Hanukkah, and Passover with my husband’s family.  We didn’t begin any traditions in our own home.  We also only went to Temple during the High Holidays and for a few Shabbat events.  We actually didn’t become members of our Temple until our son was born.  We did so because it was important to us that our children learn about their father’s heritage. 

As a working mom, I have found very little time to read the terrific books that I have on raising Jewish children.  At night, I start reading but then find myself falling asleep.  For nights, I would be reading the same few pages.  When I heard about the ‘Parenting Through a Jewish Lens’ class, I knew I had to take it.  And my husband was willing to take it with me which has led to many great talks. 

My favorite experience has been seeing how this class influenced my husband to begin saying the Sh’ma to the kids at bedtime.  Based on the PJ Library’s (terrific program) Goodnight Sh’ma book, I thought the Sh’ma was only about 3 lines long.  But after discussing the Sh’ma in class and receiving a very nice, colorful prayer page, I soon realized that was an abridged version.  I now hear both children singing part of it with my husband. 

For myself, I have found this class very enlightening on Jewish core values and the importance of community.  Even though we have discussed many great topics, I was most interested in learning how to get our children involved with helping others and understanding the importance of it.  While I have thought about doing this before, this class has motivated me even more to do it.  We both found this class to be an important and helpful stop on our journey of parenting.

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