Rabbi Lauren Holtzblat, the Director of Lifelong Learning at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington DC, writes:
The most important life lesson I hope that I am continually teaching my children is to be present for the radical wonder of the universe. Not just the big miracles that happen but the small, daily wonders of life (the seeds that burst through the ground in the springtime, the phases of the moon, spontaneous laughter, the potential to feel endless love in our hearts, the chirping of the birds). The lesson my kids are teaching me as a parent is that when I can be fully present- i.e. walk away from technology, the stresses that I hold in my mind- I can experience the radical amazement of the universe daily too.
Nancy Pryzant Picus, Director of Jewish Learning at The Shlenker School, shares the following at a particularly poignant moment in her family’s life:
I’ve actually thought a lot about this lately because in just a little over a month, I’m bringing my first child–my beautiful daughter Amalia–to the chuppah. I’ve been trying to think what words of wisdom I can give her as she embarks on her own life as a wife, and God willing, a mother. Here are some of my thoughts:
1. My husband and I have always raised our children with one goal in mind–to lead them to a life of Torah, chuppah, and ma’asim tovim. We have laid a foundation, we believe, by sending them to day school, by making Shabbat and holidays the center of our family life, and by encouraging volunteerism and tzedakah. We’ve given them a foundation of Torah and ma’asim tovim; with God’s help, the chuppah we bring her to will be the first step in a life of love, devotion, and yes, building on the foundation of Torah and ma’asim tovim.
2. In our family, we’ve always invited God to live in our house. We’ve never shied away from discussions about God, or from even admitting that yes, sometimes we question God, too. I remember one such discussion so clearly. We were on the way to the library, and in the backseat, my 6th grader was talking about something she had learned in biology, my 4th grader was relating something he had heard in a discussion about human sexuality (yes, that’s the year the kids get “the” information here at Shlenker), and my 2nd grader was trying to take it all in. One of them, the fourth grader, said, “I just don’t get it about all the kissing.” Of course, the other needed to respond and prove her superiority, and a lengthy discussion ensued. Finally, one of them reached a conclusion: “I get it now. God is the outline, and science is the details.” What a life lesson we had that day!