A child's Jewish education can be compared to a three-legged stool. The home, the congregation and the learning programs offered by the congregation are the three legs of that stool. All three work together to ensure the stability of the stool and to provide our children with a solid foundation upon which to grow into responsible and knowledgeable Jews.
Parents and Jewish Home Life are critical elements of your child's Jewish upbringing. The congregation, the rabbi, the teachers, the texts and traditions are here to support you in growing the next generation of Jews. Together, we fulfill the mitzvah: v'shinantam l'vanecha/teach them to your children.
Here are a few ways that parents can partner with the congregation and the teachers to support what your children are learning and experiencing in our learning programs.
1. Do try this at home. Judaism is grounded in home and family life. Make holiday, Shabbat and Jewish rituals an integral part of your family schedule. Fill your home with Jewish ritual objects, books and art. Share memories and traditions from your childhood. Create new memories and traditions that your children will want to continue. Experiment and see what feels right to your unique family.
2. Read the Weekly Newsletter. During the weeks that we are in session, a weekly newsletter comes out on Monday or Tuesday. This newsletter includes updates on what is happening within the entire learning program as well as news specific to each class or grade. There is an At Home section in each grade-specific entry that includes questions to explore as a family based on the topics covered in the past session. Make a commitment to yourself and your child(ren) to read the newsletter and talk about what goes on in our sessions.
3. Discuss, Debate, Ask Questions. Read the weekly newsletter and talk with your children about the learning experiences each week. Use the At Home section to initiate conversations about what it means to live Jewish lives. Engage your children in discovering what aspects of Jewish religion and civilization resonate and inspire. Be G0d-Wrestlers and struggle with those aspects that are more challenging. Judaism is not about believing; it's about doing, being and becoming.
4. Make a commitment to attend regularly. Talk to your children about why you are committed to Jewish learning. Demonstrate this by bringing them on time and joining them whenever the opportunity arises: Opening Cirlce, T'filah, Closing Circle, Mishpacha Days, Student-Led Services, Festival Celebrations, Parent Parallel Workshops and Activities. Be positive and encouraging. Learning at Etz is meant to be fun and inspiring.
5. Continue your Jewish Learning. Take classes, read books, magazines, newspapers, come to Torah Study, listen to lectures, watch movies, talk to the rabbi, the teachers and other knowledgeable congregants. Ask questions. Show your children that Jewish learning never stops.
6. Be part of the community. You can't do Jewish alone. Congregation Etz Chayim is a vibrant, dynamic community. There is so much more than Sunday morning and Wednesday afternoon/evening classes for young people. As a family, come to Shabbat dinners, Shabbat services, participate in festival celebrations. Plan social events with families who have children in the same chavurah/grade. Find ways to volunteer and engage throughout the year. Got an idea for something you'd like to do? Together we can make it happen.
Children learn from what we do. So, do Jewish.