As a parent and educator, I spend a lot of time thinking about what it takes to raise children who cherish and benefit from the gift of Judaism. I want my children to respect the ritual and spirituality of their faith, but I also want them to enjoy it – to continue learning after their B’nai Mitzvah, to build their own community of Jewish peers, and to spend their time engaging in hesed projects that help make the world a better place.
That’s the real value of a strong Jewish education, and it’s a value we try to work toward at CSX – Beth Tzedec’s Congregational School Experience. We help children and families find ways to build a stronger connection to their Judaism.
If you’re raising children and want them to feel excited and passionate about Judaism, here are a few things you should consider.
Escape Appointment Judaism
Too many of us think about being Jewish as “that thing we have to do sometime in September.” We limit the spiritual resources and opportunities that we’ve been given to set days of the week or year, and we schedule it into our lives the same way we schedule doctor’s appointments or parent-teacher interviews.
The potential of part-time Jewish educational settings is to focus on the opportunities of Jewish living day-to-day, not just once a week or once a year. Engaging in acts of hesed is just as important and worthwhile on Sunday as it is on Friday. Being kind to a friend and understanding kindness as a core Jewish value make a difference in the world every day of the year.
A part-time Jewish education for children encourages them to engage with our faith in their everyday lives – beyond the boundaries of Shabbat or the High Holy Days. It reminds all of us that Jewish wisdom, values and acts can permeate each day, each setting and each action.
Remember that we are a People
We call ourselves the Jewish People as a reminder that we are not Jews in isolation. We are members of a vibrant and historic community – a community of shared faith, values and responsibility to one another.
So when you’re teaching your child to love their faith, remember that Judaism is about more than the rituals and traditions you remember from childhood. Being able to provide context and share stories will help amplify your child’s understanding of their own Jewish identity and sense of self.
At CSX, we share stories that get kids excited about being Jewish. The history of Israel and the Jewish People offer context and colour to our traditions in ways that you might have long forgotten. Encouraging your children to learn about our People and history outside of traditional settings can spark a passion that lasts a lifetime.
Develop a Jewish Peer Group
It’s a fact: no one wants to be the only kid not celebrating Christmas in December. Part-time Jewish education gives your child the opportunity to make friends with their peers and gives you the opportunity to connect with other families who share your values.
At CSX, we do that by sharing rituals and practices that encourage a sense of community, like practicing Havdalah services, decorating the Sukkah or sitting down for communal Shabbat dinners. We want your child to meet and engage with peers who can remind them how fun Judaism can be so that when December rolls around they feel fortunate, not forsaken.
Raising children is hard. Raising children Jewishly in a culture that doesn’t always accommodate that can be extra trying. And raising children who are passionate and excited about their Judaism can sometimes feel like an impossible mission.
But when you manage it – when your 7-year-old shares the story of the Maccabees, or your 12-year-old wants to lead Junior Congregation, or your 15-year-old wants to join the synagogue choir – you’ll know that you’re shared the gift of Judaism with your child in a way that’s meaningful and lasting.
To learn more about how we share the gift of Judaism at CSX, please reach out to me by at 416-781-3514, ext. 231 or CSX at Beth Tzedec.