A few months ago, I was freaking out over my daughter starting preschool, not because I didn’t want her to go but because I can’t believe she’s old enough for it. After a few weeks of adjustment (mostly on her part; I found the additional free time quite easy to adapt to), Ellie is a happy student at the school in a Conservative temple.
The thing is she already knows more about Judaism than I do. I attended religious school at a Reform temple from first through 12th grades, but much of what I remember is the socializing. (No comment, please, Mom.) When Ellie came home from her second day of school and said “boker tov” (good morning) to me, I thought perhaps she had sneezed.
Sometimes when she says a word I can’t make out, I wonder if it’s Hebrew for something. I know her teachers give the Hebrew as well as English names for things.
All of this has made for interesting, if not at times awkward, conversations. At home, Ellie has asked to kiss the mezuzah (we have several) and at Yizkor on Yom Kippur, she was ready to rush the ark, shouting “See ’em Torahs?” during a moment of silence. At school, her teacher asked how our Sukkot was, and I said, with downward-cast eyes, “Very nice, thank you.” We hadn’t done much to celebrate it at home. OK, we hadn’t done anything to celebrate it at home.
When I was a kid, we celebrated the Jewish holidays with the traditionally appropriate festivities: seders, break-the-fasts, latkes, challah, matzah, etc. But we didn’t keep kosher or learn to converse in Hebrew.
I love being Jewish and part of the Jewish community, and I am glad I chose a preschool where Ellie can learn more than I can teach her. That’s the point, after all. It just so happens I will get more for my money than I bargained for when I enrolled her. I’ll get an education, too.