We Jews are a far more diverse group of individuals than most people think. I refer not only to our identity as Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox. But visit most any country in the world and you will come upon Jews who speak different languages, eat different foods, and observe our traditions in keeping with their own customs and interpretations.
And here, in our own congregation, we each have our own political views, personal interests and life stories. But the one thing that we all agree upon, regardless of where and how we live, is that we want our children to proudly identify themselves as Jewish.
Affiliation with a synagogue, attendance at Hebrew school, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, trips to Israel, choosing a college with a significant Jewish population; these are some of the important ways in which we try to nurture Jewish identity in our children.
But the most important way, I believe, is through the model that we as parents present to our children. The Torah commands parents: “And you shall teach them to your children!” “You” are the primary teacher of your children as they come to learn of the things that matter most in life. From “you” do your children learn to aspire to worthy goals, and to be fair and charitable and kind.
From “you,” much more than from our Religious School teachers, do our children learn that each is a precious link in the chain of Jewish tradition that remains unbroken.
Interpreting the commandment “You shall honor your father and your mother,” one of our great sages says that “every parent should ask him/herself everyday: ‘What is there about me that merits the honor of my child?'” In the face of all of the challenges and pressures of daily living, and as we confront the complex questions of our own lives and the turbulent world in which we live, may we ever be worthy teachers of our children.