Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm Davening

This morning, we were all getting dressed in many layers to go to a birthday party when my son marched out of the living room and into our bedroom. He closed the door behind him and said, "I'm busy. I'm davening." I didn't know what to say or do in response so I sneaked over to the partly closed door and listened.

My kid grabbed his abba's siddur (that abba liberated from me) and was standing flipping through the pages and singing the Shema.

He came out a minute later and said, "I'm done." Then he walked over to his toy area and grabbed a little xeroxed pamphlet that he made in school, basically an illustrated Birkot HaShachar which he markered all over in green. Took it right back into the room, went through the whole routine again. This time he comes out and said, "I said brachot."

Kvelling would be not even enough to describe how full my heart was (and is).

Then, I got bitter. I thought about my parents who seemed to have much disdain for Jewish ritual life outside of the synagogue (although my father is and was a pulpit rabbi). I thought about how lucky I was to go to a Jewish summer camp.

And then I got sad. I felt sad for every single one of those Jewish 3 year olds out there who have no Jewish role models and no teachers and no parents who care enough to teach them the Shema so that when they grow up they can teach it to their children. Of course, I think about this all the time because it's my work to do so as a Jewish educator, but I can't help but think that this is the singe most important moment in a person's life to change how they relate to their Judaism, and we are missing the boat.

If we don't get parents of young children on board, and help them learn and teach their children, well, it won't happen for those kids. And then the cycle repeats itself. I am not talking intermarriage here (that seems too obvious) but the continued decline of any relationship to Jewish living.

So at a moment that I felt (and still feel) such tremendous joy for my son, for my family and for myself (sorry for the lack of humility), I feel sadness for those who don't have this or don't know how to access it. Maybe we should call it a day and pour our resources into early childhood education instead of (whoa, I'm not going there)....


Maya said...


Ilanadavita said...

Sweet story.