So Jewy

So Jewy

“I am a Jewish mother. My dying words will be, “Put a sweater on” Amanda Craig,

My kids think that I have become so Jewy.  What does Jewy mean anyway? Does it mean too Jewish? Jewish seem to describe birth or upbringing. Jewy sounds like more of a choice.

I wasn’t observant but I did not want to raise my children without religion. It was important to me that they knew where they came from. I wanted them to have an understanding of the beliefs and identity of their great grandparents who escaped pogroms to come here and of all the Jews who died in the concentration camps. I believe in traditions and rituals—whether it was lighting the Hanukkah candles, going to temple on the High Holy days, the rite of passage of asking the four questions at a Seder, enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, birthday parties, the Tooth Fairy or sleeping in Mom and Dad’s bed after a nightmare. These things make up much of the fabric of our childhood memories and sense of family.

I did not go to Temple every week or celebrate the Sabbath.  Secretly I wish we had done that now, more for the family to get together than real Jewish study. I learned when my children were studying for their Bar Mitzvahs that our tradition comes with all sorts of advice about how best to behave in the world. What is a person’s obligation in this chaotic world? I could have used these life lessons.

And then there is the God thing. The Ten Commandments sound pretty easy yet it seems very hard for human beings to follow them. If you do not want to follow them, then it is easier not to believe in them. Are you a person of reason or a person of faith seems to be the dialogue. Why can’t you be both?

I thought that I had done everything right in terms of creating a religious background. But one of the most cherished myths of parenting is that parents create the child. There is no guarantee that your children will absorb everything you think they will. I believe that children are born more hard-wired than one would think. The nature/nurture debate goes on.

My job is done. I did my best to raise them that a little faith is important. It is understandable that young adults feel that celebrating the Jewish holidays is hypocritical (and boring) because it no longer goes along with their beliefs. Going along with family occasions as a respect to your parents without feeling defensive is a sign of maturity. A reality of modern life is that people get to decide for themselves what to believe, and emerging adults today feel they have not just a right but an obligation to make that decision on their own.

This year the events in Charlottesville make me feel the need to be more Jewy. My obligation in this chaotic world is to increase my good deeds, study,  go to temple on the Jewish Holidays and pray for a world that has gone insane.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

What Did It Feel Like On Your Last Day Of Being A Child And Other Questions Asked By Children All Over The World

 Philosophical Questions Asked By Children All Over The World

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” Voltaire

In the past  two  years of my blog I have done Proust and  Kant questions on travel and in life  for the new year.  This time, I collected philosophy questions from children on my travels and from the writing program I volunteer in.  I didn’t answer them but they give me something to thing about for the new year.

How do you know if someone is really your friend?

What is imagination?

Is it possible to hold a fair race?

Can animals think?

Why do we cry?

What’s the difference between telling a lie and keeping a secret?

Is it ever ok to steal?

When did you start to think?

What does love mean?

Does my turtle know me?

What is the difference between intelligence and wisdom?

Why are we born?

Why are we here?

Why is there evil in the world?

If we all go to heaven, why did God put us here first?

Does the universe have an edge?

Do we have to be sad sometimes to be happy at other times?

If you had a different name would you be a different person?

Why am I me and not someone else?

How do you know life is not a dream?

Do we all have the same rights?

Why does time move slow when we are afraid and fast when we are on vacation?

Does God exist?

Who made God?

What does God do all day?

Who are God’s parents?

If God is everywhere, is he in my class?

Do you want peace and quiet?

What is my job in this world?

Where does time go when it is over?

What did it feel like on your last day of being a child?

Are we here for a reason?

Am I supposed to know this?

Happy New Year and Fly Safe

JAZ