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Jewish learningParenting Connections: Together and Apart

Teaching Parenting Through a Jewish Lens this year has been such a great experience! I had the fortunate opportunity to facilitate a class with five couples from Needham’s Temple Beth Shalom, who were already friends. That made my experience of joining their group especially sweet. Everyone has kids a bit younger than mine, and I was able to relate my own parenting experiences to the curriculum. I particularly appreciated how much everyone’s different backgrounds and reference points enlivened the discussion and expanded my own understanding of the texts. I believe Jewish learning is a living enterprise that changes us as we bring new interpretations into the discussion. This “expansion of Torah” serves as a foundation for my motivation as a Jewish educator.

I live a couple hours away in Norwich, Vermont, a small town near Dartmouth college with a very small Jewish community. Engaging in Jewish learning and conversation with other Jewish parents is rejuvenating for me personally, and I appreciate the connection to the larger Jewish community in the greater Boston area. Teaching PTJL helps me stay connected to my own Jewish identity as a learner and teacher.

We started the year in person in November, met through weather delays and finished it on Zoom, in mid-May during the current pandemic. This made for quite a year together! While virtual classes are not the same as in person ones, the bond between the group allowed for jokes and a relaxed atmosphere, during our later than usual sessions on Zoom. At our last meeting, despite the uncertainty of our time we were able to end on a high note, sharing our take-aways with each other.

One that stuck with me was a comment from a couple people that the class was more inspiring than expected, because we focused on many different opportunities to engage Jewishly rather than specific recommendations or rules about how Judaism looks or is practiced. This idea is important to me because it highlights that we as Jews, are the ones who decide how we practice our religion and culture, and we have the power to shape our Jewish experience to find personal meaning.  It was a sincere pleasure to guide this group to finding their own interpretations of meaning and I look forward to continuing learning with the PTJL community in the future.

Hayley DeLugach is a Jewish educator who schleps all the way from Vermont to teach Parenting Through a Jewish Lens in the Boston area.