Are your children active members of a Jewish community? If not, please know that I would love to spend time with them. (Note: If your children are members of a Jewish community, I would love to spend time with them as well!)
I have just passed the one year mark here at Holy Blossom Temple, and nearly every day I wander past the confirmation and consecration pictures on the wall and I wonder, “Where are all of those children today?”
At places around town and at life cycle events, I have met some of your children: “Rabbi, you are from Holy Blossom? Perhaps you know my parents?” or “Holy Blossom? Our parents were very involved there! But now we don’t belong to a synagogue.” or “I married someone not Jewish, so now I don’t belong.”
I find these interactions challenging. I love Judaism and Jewish life. I have fallen in love with Holy Blossom Temple. I find what we do here compelling – feeding the hungry, raising awareness of poverty, coming together to celebrate simchas and to support each other in times of sadness (such as this moment of uncertainty around the three boys kidnapped in Israel). Judaism has a rich past, and Reform Judaism is the Judaism of yore in the process of becoming our children’s Judaism. Yet here is the next generation, often in helping professions and attached to good causes through their pocketbooks and volunteer time, who are opting out of teaching these values through Jewish communal living for their own children.
I am not judging them, and I am not judging you. Maybe we never asked. It is possible that 5th grade Judaism was not compelling or interesting enough. Or that an attempt was made, but there was a feeling that the community did not reach back with open arms. Maybe Rabbi or Cantor Anonymousberger said the wrong thing at just the wrong moment.
Judaism is bigger and more important than a bad encounter, or a question that has never been asked. Judaism is a way of life rooted in an idea of God who commands us to spend more time with our families and with ourselves. A God who tells us to always have hope, to work towards a better world, and that the way from this world to a better one is best travelled with friends, with community.
I want you to know that I am willing to spend time with your children to talk to them about finding a Jewish community that works for them and their family. It may or may not be Holy Blossom Temple. Although I am not a wholly impartial guide, I will do my best to help them find a community of like-minded individuals.
Finally, I know some of our children are concerned that they will not find a home in our Jewish community because they have fallen in love with someone who is not Jewish. Holy Blossom Temple is home to many diverse types of families, and I guarantee they can find themselves at home here. Forward this to them.
[If you have gotten this far in this article, you are interested enough in discovering what life in the Jewish community can be like that we should talk. My phone number is 416.789.3291, ext. 277, and I try to reply to e-mails at [email protected]within twenty four hours. Our Senior Rabbi Designate, Yael Splansky ([email protected], ext. 244) would also like to help you find a place for your children in our Jewish community.]
Let your children, your siblings, your friends know that we are happy to do our best to help them find a community that accepts them for who they are, values them, and works together with them to leave a safer and healthier world for their children.