A Collective Confession for Parents on Yom Kippur – Kveller
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A Collective Confession for Parents on Yom Kippur

On Yom Kippur, we stand in our respective congregations and recite the Vidui, a confession of a litany of sins for which we claim collective responsibility. We do this as a group, I remember being told as a child, so that no one has to confess, “I murdered,” alone, and also so that we realize our collective responsibility as a community for one another’s actions.

At Kveller, we have created a congregation and family of parents, readers, writers, communicators, and Jews. We share our stories with one another. We kindle friendships virtually and actually between one another.

Our paths to parenting are very different, as are our outlooks on how to best parent our children. And yet this is a community of respect–all too rare a thing in the Internet era–in which we share our opinions openly and thoughtfully, and throw ideas rather than insults at one another.

And that is why I wrote this interpretation of the Vidui from a parent’s point of view. I used the original text and put a “parent-child” spin on each of the original “crimes” confessed. I hope that you find it a meaningful jumping-off point to contemplate your own personal choices, parenting, and year. G’mar chatima tova–may we all be sealed in the Book of Life for a good, sweet, healthy, and happy new year.

Ashamnu – We have trespassed onto our children’s privacy and independence by hovering.

Bagadnu – We have done improper things, and have convinced ourselves that our actions were in our childrens’ best interests.

Gazalnu – We have robbed our children by not giving them our full attention when we are with them.

Dibarnu dofi – We have spoken slanderously of others, and have done it in front of our children.

He’evinu – We have caused our children to sin by not showing them the right way to act.

V’hirshanu – We have caused others to do evil by encouraging our child’s bad behavior.

Zadnu – We have scorned the honor of our own parents.

Hamasnu – We have touched our children in anger.

Tafalnu sheker – We have venerated and associated ourselves with people who are poor role models for our children.

Yaatznu ra – We have given our children bad advice.

Kizavnu – We have lied, whether for a good reason or not.

Latsnu – We have scoffed at Jewish traditions and have ignored who we really are.

Maradnu – We have rebelled by going against our Jewish heritage and failing to explore ways to make it mean more to us.

Niatsnu – We have used profane language in front of our children.

Sararnu – We have yelled at our children for being disobedient, but have been disobedient ourselves.

Avinu – We have intentionally done things wrong, knowing that they’re wrong and not caring about the consequences for our children.

Pashanu – We have denied Judaism in our homes.

Tzararnu – We have stirred the pot of gossip against our fellow parents and have encouraged bad feelings between parents.

Kishinu oref – We have been stubborn with our children when we should have been flexible.

Rashanu – We have acted as though the rules of our homes do not apply to us.

Shichatnu—We have let ourselves be angry, and become angry more easily than we become calm.

Tiavnu – We have worshipped idols of materialism and superficiality and have taught our children to venerate them as well.

Ta’inu – We have gone astray and have been an unworthy example for our children.

Teetanu – We have gone astray deliberately, because of having chosen to do so, and cannot see the parallel between our children’s behavior and our own.

Sarnu – We have deliberately turned away from respecting authority, yet we expect our children to respect us.

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