Community Blog The Village that Helps Me Raise My Child

By Devorah Steinberg


I have been blessed. So many times and in so many ways, that I am happy to report that I could not possibly list them all here. Being a parent to my nine-year-old son, Joshua, is the greatest blessing of all. I always knew I wanted to be a Mom, from the time I was a little girl. When Josh was born, I was elated. Being forty-one and single at the time, I completely appreciated the miracle of this occurrence. It was upon his birth that I recognized more fully the necessity of the task of caring for him, for raising him, was not something that I felt that I could do alone. It was also at the time of Josh’s birth that I became more reflective and aware of my own values, even more so than I had been before. I had been very connected to Judaism and spirituality for many years prior to becoming a parent, and knew that I wanted to share this with my child. I wanted to raise him with Jewish values, but in the unique, progressive manner in which it spoke to me. How to do that, I often asked myself?

Being a part of our temple’s PTJL class at Temple Beth ZIon in Brookline, was the perfect opportunity to blend these two things: gaining wisdom, support and community in parenting and doing it literally through a Jewish lens. One of the ways I knew how to best bring Jewish values home was through rituals. It is not easy creating and keeping rituals at home with the busy life of family and especially so for me, having to create and maintain these rituals on my own. It was up to me; it would not happen for Josh if I didn’t do it! One of the most precious rituals that I began as a suggestion from taking this course is saying the Sh’ma to him every night just as I kiss him and turn out his light. I softly sing it to him, and it is very satisfying knowing that these are the last words he hears every night before he falls asleep. Following a discussion during one of our classes, I also began receiving a weekly Torah portion commentary via email, so that I would be aware of some of the teachings of the parasha for the week, and weave some of these ideas into conversation with him. Since he attends Jewish day school, I need to do something to keep up with and enhance his Jewish learning! What is also wonderful about the PTJL class is getting to know more intimately the other participants, who are also temple members, and our two rabbis, Rav Claudia Kreiman and Reb Moshe Waldocks. The extra bonus is that Josh has gotten to know the kids of the other participants upstairs in the babysitting room while the parents meet!  Our temple feels now even more like a community and home to us both. This class is yet another blessing. I will continue to count them, in gratitude.

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