Jewish Parenting Fail

standard February 22, 2011 7 responses

“But mommy, I need to believe in Jesus. It helps me feel calm during play rehearsals!”

C’s words froze me in my tracks. I scrambled through what we’d just been discussing and wondered how things had come to this.

If you’ve never meandered over to my About Me page, you might not know that I used to work in a synagogue. You might not even know that I’ve been Jewish since 2002. Fact is, while Judaism was a huge part of my life for years – Sunday school teacher, synagogue staff member for 6 years – ever since I left the synagogue, I’ve considered myself as being “on a break” from religion.

I needed the break. No doubt about it. I needed to find myself again, rediscover who I was, away from everything else.

When I left the synagogue C was still in preschool there and I dutifully brought her back three times a week for a whole school year. At the end of that year, for many various reasons, we decided to switch schools, and that last day I drove away, fully intending to not go back for as long as I possibly could.

I forgot along the way that my break was having an effect on my kids. I forgot that 3-year-olds forget quickly and that everything she learned at her Jewish preschool would fade. I forgot that we might need to actually do something to foster her Jewish identity beyond holiday celebrations with the grandparents and a Shabbat evening here and there.


Whoops! Major Jewish parenting FAIL.

I salvaged the moment in the car by launching into an animated recounting of the story of Moses and then an even more energetic retelling of the story of Samson- desperate to relate some strong Jewish role models that she could pull from when she needed moral support.

Then I went home, tucked her and her sister in, and threw myself on the mercy of the Amazon gods. Some $44 later I had The Prince of Egypt headed my way as well as a number of books covering the range from What makes someone a Jew to a couple children’s bibles as well as a sweet goodnight book called the Bedtime Sh’ma.

We’re starting small. For the last two nights we’ve read the goodnight book and M and I have sung the Sh’ma to the girls just before turning out the lights. It’s a tiny step, but that, coupled with some more story telling, and maybe, just maybe, venturing to a synagogue once in a while to celebrate Shabbat with a larger group of people, might just help.

I have no issues with my daughter learning about other cultures and religions. I just want her to know that she comes from a long line of strong, moral, wonderful people. And if she needs good role models to help her feel strong and confident, we have them by the bucketload.

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7 responses

  • I think it’s sweet really. Kids have a way of reminding all moms, what they are failing at, what is most important, what they need RIGHT then.. right?

    Kids need a healthy dose of tradition is what I think. And I’m a pretty religious person but I still think I fail at times with the whole bedtime routine etc… 🙂

    So bless you or how do you say that in Jewish/Hebrew/Yiddish??

  • It’s not a widely publicized fact, but Jesus was actually a very good Jew!

    Okay, okay. I get what you’re saying and I am so with you. It occurred to me many months ago that if I take my son out of his Catholic school, his faith formation would be completely up to me. Me! The sometimes fervent, always falling behind… and I’ve been Catholic all of my life!

    To your point, the OT also features some amazing women! So, C and L are certainly not lacking in the role model department.

  • I can relate. My Jewish 5 yo attends a Christian daycare, so every day is an uphill battle. Add to that, I’m pretty sure all the teachers there think I am a heathen when I walk in 😉

  • I love how you’re building it into your bedtime routine. We’re Christian and I know we need to be better about prayers before bed.

    Sounds like you’re on the right track!

  • shine

    Hi, you need to research about religion. Consider Islam. Millions of European convert to Islam after they study about Islam. Good luck.

  • It’s crazy to think how much is on OUR heads as the parents to teach our children about our heritage and faith. Even when they are getting it at church or school, so much of the training needs to happen at home. I applaud you for taking steps to make it a bigger part of your family’s life. 🙂

  • I can relate to taking a break. faith ebbs and flows like the tide. Easy to do for oneself…but the kids! I admire your working at this, its a lifelong journey. thanks for sharing!

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