Now that the chaos of Hanukkah is over (one would think that lighting a few candles each night wouldn’t be that disruptive, but one apparently didn’t take into account late nights, gelt, and presents), I’ve had some time to reflect on the Jewish Mother Project thus far.
Some of it has gone quite well; I’ve enjoyed the holidays more than usual this year, and I’ve found great meaning in the Jewish traditions around death and mourning. I’ve been quite happy wearing my Star of David necklace each day, and I’ve had several friends and acquaintances comment on how helpful my post about taking anxiety medications was for them. I’ve been eating mostly vegetarian, and while I can’t say it’s been tremendously meaningful, it’s been an interesting experiment.
And then there have been the goals and practices that I haven’t been so great about. Just two practices, but they’re big ones: learning Hebrew and saying my blessings before meals. I started out well with them—I was listening to my Pimsleur app on the way to get the girls from school, and I was saying the ha’motzi whenever I had bread on my plate.
But it only lasted a couple of weeks, and then the busy-ness of life took over, and, well, I forgot. The audio courses were boring, I couldn’t remember the blessings for non-bread items, blah blah blah, excuse excuse excuse.
As we all know, starting a new habit is hard, even when it’s a habit you’re excited about. But I’m not giving up on this project. I need to go back to what I know about Judaism, and what I know about starting something new.
I need to start small, and I need support. Judaism is not a religion to be practiced alone. So, I’m not going to go at this alone. I’m going to go back to the resources I have available and learn a bit more about what resonates with me before I commit to a practice. These are the resources I’m using:
1. I am participating in Hineni: The Mindful Heart Community, run by Rabbi Jill Zimmerman. Mindfulness is an important and meaningful practice for me, and adding a Jewish twist to it may be more manageable for me than starting an entirely new habit.
2. I’m reading Jewish Spiritual Parenting: Wisdom, Activities, Rituals and Prayers for Raising Children with Spiritual Balance and Emotional Wholeness by Rabbi Paul Kipnes and Michelle November. Seeing as how my daughters are a strong motivation for this project, I thought going back to Jewish parenting might be a good start.
Now is when I need your help. What daily practices have been particularly meaningful to you? How do you stay consistent with your practices? What resources do you use?