I spent the better part of this past Wednesday talking to a group of young adults about Ta’anit Esther. I was surprised to learn that the group tally for those invested in fasting was sadly below 50% (the tally for completing the fast, the percentage was much lower). Some of my students showed their disinterest by walking into their first period class or around the hallways, holding a cup of coffee from Chock or Dunkin.
This shocked me because for the past two weeks the Halakha and Talmud teachers were teaching Sugyoth directly related to the halakhot of Ta’anit Esther and the Holiday of Purim.
There is a disconnect between what we teach in class and how the students indentify with those ideas. The level of buy-in, is hardly a given. No matter how well certain students perform on their Jewish Studies exams, the level of commitment to Jewish practice is often not commensurate. I assure you that this situation in not limited to a school. I have heard anecdotal evidence from my colleagues from Jewish Day Schools across the globe.
That’s where YOU come in, the parents and grandparents. In the end, it comes down to this, are the students hearing the same message about a commitment to our religion in both school and at home?
As a teacher I have come to realize, that I can’t do it without YOU. No matter how inspirational I am in class, no matter how well my students do on their exams. It wont matter, unless they see their parents and grandparents, living a committed Jewish life to Torah, Misvoth and Customs (Minhagim).
I tried to get my students to realize, that if they don’t see themselves as a responsible link in the chain of our great religion of Judaism, it is very possible that down the road, there won’t be any chain at all.
I ask you the same question. What have you as parents and grandparents tried in order to instill a level of commitment in the next generation. I would like to know.
Rabbi Moses Haber firstname.lastname@example.org
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