Growing up I spent much of my time after school at Hebrew School. I did not enjoy it very much and would try many tactics to get out of it. My favorite was holding a thermometer under my lamp. That worked very well for me.
Because I went to overnight Jewish summer camp and learned quite a bit about Judaism there, I felt bored during the school year in Hebrew School. I have heard many stories from friends about their “Hebrew School torture,”and the one common thread was the lack of creativity in the lessons. Unfortunately, that was my experience. It simply was not fun.
But now, my 4-year-old daughter loves going to Hebrew School. We are incredibly lucky to belong to a synagogue that offers a wonderful preschool curriculum and every Sunday morning she attends for three hours. The lessons include reading books, doing art projects, special services, and music where my daughter is learning about the upcoming holidays and so much more. This week she came to me and said, “Mommy, shmi Iliana. That means my name is Iliana in Hebrew.” I thought I would cry I was so proud of her, and so glad that she is absorbing so much from this class.
What does this mean, really? Well, as I am going through the transition of having my daughter in her last year of preschool, my daughter is doing her job of growing up. Her enthusiasm is beyond comprehension to me and her love of learning and pride she feels when sharing what she is learning is a gift. While I am feeling overwhelmed with her life progressing too quickly, I am able to catch my breath and experience the wonder of it all. While my husband and I have three hours of “alone time” every Sunday, our daughter is busy navigating her own world.
One of the most surprising aspects of all of this has been her instant comfort at Hebrew School. It happened upon entrance into her classroom on the first day. Even though we are not physically there with her, she always carries her mommy and daddy with her, and I believe this ability is one of the most important skills a 4-year-old can have. The gift of holding on to ones’ parents, internally, provides assurance, safety, and strength, and the fact that our daughter has mastered that blows me away. Apparently my husband and I have done something right!
I am thrilled that my daughter is beginning her own relationship with Judaism. She has the benefit of growing up at a time when Jewish education is evolving and the children are the beneficiaries. My wish for her is to continue feeling this great enthusiasm and joy and to relish the wonder of learning.