As parents, it is our responsibility to keep our children safe and it is our privilege to instill them with positive values. How can we go against the grain, reimagine the status quo, and shape our homes and schools to be places that embody Jewish values, foster a love of Jewish learning, and embrace our loved ones’ individual identities? In the article below, Manette Mayberg, Momentum’s Immediate Past President and Co-Founder, Jewish Education Innovation Challenge (JEIC) Founder, entrepreneurial philanthropist, and dedicated Jewish community member, shares innovative and thoughtful solutions to timeless parenting pursuits.
Distinction. It’s in the Jewish community’s DNA, and it has enabled our survival throughout the ages. We are a people scattered over all four corners of the earth, and distinction is the unifier that has made our survival possible.
Our pursuit of distinction has biblical roots. Our people’s journey from Egypt to freedom began with a bold act — marking our doorposts with the mezuzah. G-d said, “Mark your houses,” because the values that you hold inside will distinguish you for all time. To distinguish their homes from their Egyptian neighbors’ homes, the Jewish people marked their doorposts with the blood of an animal considered sacred by the Egyptians. That took a lot of courage!
To this day, we have continued to live in times and places that don’t make it simple or easy to live Jewishly. I believe in the age-old adage that nothing good comes easily. Connecting to Jewish values takes thought, effort and yes, courage, in a world filled with the pressure to conform to lifestyles that don’t convey those values. This is the thread that holds together the global network of Momentum sisters. The desire to be our best selves and live our lives to the fullest fuels the courage that we need to distinguish our families by infusing our homes with sacred values.
In Judaism, the home is our holiest place. It is where we have the greatest opportunity to mold and develop the souls entrusted to us. Our homes provide the setting for us to role model the Momentum’s core Jewish values, like human dignity, faithfulness, and courage, which are vital to building self-esteem and emotional safety. The home provides a unique opportunity to convey in real time what it means to embody Jewish values and to create a solid and sustainable Jewish identity. The home provides a setting in which we can convey the Jewish wisdom of rewarding effort over achievement and embracing the differences in each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. Let’s develop self-awareness around jumping on the bandwagon of encouraging our kids to fit the mold which communicates the corollary of not fitting the mold is a failure.
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Valuing peace over being right is a gift we give ourselves. So, it’s time to learn to apologize – even when we aren’t in the wrong! Practice saying “oops, I blew it” or “wow, I sure got that wrong” to prepare ourselves for the moments we’ll really need to say them. Otherwise, we may win the battle – but lose the war.