By Rabbi Jordan Helfman.
We establish a foundation by celebrating Shabbat as a family. The groundwork is laid as we gather around the table at Pesach. The underpinnings come as we build or visit Sukkot with our family. This is how we build a Jewish identity – through living Judaism as a family.
If we are concerned about the Jewishness of the next generation, we need to internalize [that what happens in our homes is paramount in preserving Jewish identity]… The task of forging our children’s Jewish identities cannot simply be delegated to others – teachers, youth workers, etc. – but must be a central preoccupation of parents, and possibly grandparents, as well. – Jonathan Boyd
Recent reviews of Jewish population studies in the UK and the US make this clear; Jewish identity and future Jewish practice are only slightly influenced by religious school and day school. The routines set in the home are most influential on our children.
Let us know how we can best support your Jewish home. If you are looking for adult Hebrew classes or a few new rituals to share with your family on Shabbat, Pesach or another Holy Day, please let us know. In addition to offering classes for adults to model the art of chanting Torah for their children, sometimes starting with basic Hebrew, we also have opportunities for parents to model living a life dedicated to tzedakah, including hands-on family activities. The various holy days at home pamphlets pictured around this page are available for you to use at home to add meaning to your home ceremonies. If one of you is not Jewish, but is looking for more learning to bolster your Jewish parenting, we are happy to provide that learning. If you can think of any other way we can support you, or feel like you need a conversation about ways of strengthening your Jewish home, please be in touch.
The research also pointed to ways that religious school and day schools can be most effective, in partnership with the home.
- More IS more.
- There are some programs that these studies highlight that we, the professional staff and the youth education committee, can learn from. Some of the learnings are that the programming must feel immersive, have a strong peer group, and involve long-term commitment.
- Most importantly, we need you to make these programs a mandatory part of your home expectations for children of all ages – from tot to young professional to the parents of your grandchildren.
Too often it is in the key developmental years of our children’s lives when parents make Jewish programming optional. Jewish involvement in high school youth group, in university and as a young professional are formative and need to be required. If you would like me to reach out to your children, I need their e-mail addresses. Please send them to [email protected], even if you think we already have them.
…Studies make evident that the most effective initiatives share three critical features. (1) They create social networks that enhance interactions among Jews centering on matters of Jewish interest. (2) They target individuals in the same stages of life, enabling them to heighten their involvement in Jewish life along with their peers. And (3) they communicate Jewish content by exposing learners to sacred texts and the cultural heritage of the Jewish people. – Jack Wertheimer and Steven M. Cohen
By modeling Jewish life, whatever that means for you, and living that Jewish life in community, you strengthen Judaism and all that it stands for: Israel, Study, and Acts of Loving Kindness. We look forward to doing what we can to supporting you and your family on this journey.