I’ve spent a lifetime telling myself that when I grow up, I won’t just be a “High Holiday Jew.” When I have my own family, I’ll find a way to go to services, observe Shabbat more seriously, and work harder to make a Jewish family. I resented whenever people mentioned that the majority of Jews only observe the High Holidays (if that).Well, I can no longer make the claim for “when I grow up.” I am grown up with three children and it’s time to face facts—I am a “High Holiday Jew.” This year we bit the bullet and spent the exorbitant fee of joining a synagogue. My kids will start Hebrew and Sunday school at B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim shortly. I am expecting that I will probably participate more than I do now as a result of being a part of the school. But when there is a non-required family service, we are usually busy with something else and cannot participate.
I resent the busy argument. I have heard people make that same excuse for the reason their children can’t participate in Hebrew school (their kid is busy being a travel sports star). The truth is that they aren’t making Hebrew school a priority. Fine. For whatever reason, I do not make attending Shabbat service a priority over our social calendar. I’m not proud—I’m just being honest.
I feel strongly that families that have a strong sense of faith, responsibility, and community will raise stronger, better children into adults. I have always known that the values I have that blossomed through Jewish preschool, summer camp, overnight camp, Hebrew school, sorority, and family have grounded me throughout my life. I intend to instill similar values to my children.
As we enter this world of Hebrew school and Sunday school, I expect my children may test my values. I expect that they may be confused at how my religion can be the backdrop to my life, influence the choices I make, yet not be a part of my daily routine. At some point I’ll have to explain how you can feel something so strong in your heart, but still choose different priorities. I would worry that the message will be missed on them if I didn’t feel that I was raised similarly. I now accept that I am a High Holiday Jew, but one who has faith. At 6 and 8, my kids may not understand that, but
I would worry that the message will be missed on them if I didn’t feel that I was raised similarly. I now accept that I am a High Holiday Jew, but one who has faith. At 6 and 8, my kids may not understand that, but hopefully some of this will sink in when they are making choices as to how they will raise their own families.
As the High Holidays quickly approach, I buy my children their new best-dressed uniform. It reminds me of my youth—walking down the center aisle of my synagogue like a runway. When my children ask to “go to the bathroom” during services with their new Sunday school friends, I’ll wait 15 minutes before hunting them down to come back to services. I will expect both stuffed cabbage and brisket (and prepare it if need be) to be present at Rosh Hashanah dinner. Not because we need both main courses, but because that is what has been on the menu my whole life.
My kids went to Jewish preschool. My kids are going to Hebrew and Sunday school. Religion is present in our daily life, even if I’m a “High Holiday Jew.”
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