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Parenting Finding meaning for our kids…and ourselves

By Sarah Spitz
family smiling on the beach

I am a mother to 3 girls, an 8-year-old and 6-year-old twins. My girls are all very different, and they all vibrate on completely different wavelengths. As parents, this means we often have to handle the same situation differently with each child. Yet, as a family, we have a set of beliefs and values we want to communicate to our kids, so we’re constantly challenged with how to deliver those messages consistently when parenting is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. My husband and I have found that the more opportunities we have to talk with each other about our values, or about how we might tackle a specific parenting challenge, the more we have the chance to clarify and codify our own thinking about what messages we wish to instill in our children.

Our Parenting Through a Jewish Lens class was led by the gracious and empathic Rabbi Phillip Sherman from Temple Beth Elohim (TBE), and our class consisted of other parents who seem to wrestle with how to communicate their values, much in the same way that we do. Having the opportunity to reflect and talk openly and intimately—and with some good belly laughs—about the highs, lows, and in-betweens of raising children, with curious and like-minded people, was a welcome pause from the everyday busyness of my regular life. Framing these questions through the lens of Jewish values and traditions allowed me to engage with Judaism in a tangible and modern way. I appreciated how it brought old biblical stories forward and made them relevant to our current day living.

Judaism plays an evolving role in my life. As a child, it was expected that I would attend Hebrew school and become a Bat Mitzvah. But as soon as that process was complete, I walked away from temple and never returned. As a mother, I wish for my children to have a different Jewish experience than I had —  one that is not simply about ‘checking the right boxes,’ but that will hopefully be full of a meaningful and deeper connection to their community and understanding of their heritage. Luckily TBE offers that opportunity for my family by being a welcoming place of learning, exploration, fun, friendship, and above all, community. Parenting Through a Jewish Lens offered both my husband and me the opportunity to cultivate and curate the Jewish experience that we seek for ourselves — as both independent adults, and as parents to the Jewish children we’re raising.

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