A new year is just around the corner, which brings to mind many new beginnings. It is an exciting time as children anticipate a new school year and Jewish families look forward to the celebration of the New Year with friends and family. It is also a time of reflection. It is a time to think about our priorities in life and reflect on our actions for the past year to see if they match what we feel are those priorities.
What is it that we hold most dear? What are the things in our life that we prioritize and what have we done for the past 12 months to keep them central in our lives.
I think most parents will agree that our children are our number one priority in life. Our health is also right up there at the top of the list and I know for me, my Jewish values and connection to Israel also makes the list. Unfortunately, as we get caught up in our day to day business and chaotic lifestyles, we sometimes lose sight of those priorities. I know that I am guilty of this. Juggling the demands of a full- time job, part-time job and a family, it is very easy to place those priorities on the back burner..for later. Next thing you know, you are driving your son back to University and wondering where the time went.
So, I ask you to think about those priorities. Think about a daily action that you can do to keep connected to those important things in life, every day of this new year.
There are many small things to do in our daily lives to ensure we don't lose sight of what is really important. Disconnecting from our phones and emails for an hour every evening to be completely present in the lives of our children is a good start. Ensuring our phones are nowhere near our dinner table so that we can engage in meaningful conversation with our children is essential. Taking half an hour a day for ourselves to rejuvenate both mentally and physically can also help us stay focused on our own health. After all, as a parent it is very easy to put everyone before yourself until you are completely drained and have nothing more to give. Therefore, it is important to see ourselves as a cup that needs to remain filled with happiness, energy, good health so that we can "runneth over" and feed our families with the overflow. If we drain our own cup, we will have nothing left for others. Don't forget to prioritize yourself too.
How are you going to keep Judaism in your home and model it as a priority for your children. Maybe you need to cut out one of the many extra-curricular activities that your child does and instead, enroll him/her in our Hebrew School, where for 2 hours a week he/she can enrich their knowledge and pride in their Jewish roots. Maybe, you can commit to one Shabbat a month, in which you turn off all electronics and spend the day reconnecting with family. Maybe, coming to shul for Shabbat service one Saturday a month. There are many ways that we can stay connected to our religion and our Jewish community. The question remains...if it is a priority to you, then what actions will you take to prioritize it?
As many families move away from Jewish Day Schools for a variety of reasons; unfortunately many children are also losing the connection to our faith. It is difficult to stay connected to something that you don't fully understand. Without the knowledge of our history and culture the continuity of our beautiful and rich religion is being threatened. Our children are growing up in a different world than we knew. They may know how to navigate social media, technology and code a computer but do they know why Israel is important? Do they know the meaning of anti-semitism? Do they know that more than 6 million innocent Jews were murdered just 70 years ago? Do they know that they belong to a Jewish history that goes back more than 5000 years and do they really understand the values of our Torah?
Do our children understand that "anti-bullying" laws are something that are not new? They are Jewish laws that were written thousands of years ago, under the name of "Lashon Hora."
Do our children know that sending "get well" messages to the sick is also something that the Jewish people have been doing for centuries as "Bikur Cholim?"
How will our Jewish children grow up to be ethical, Jewish leaders if we don't work today to educate them? As we prioritize our childrens' education, we need to also think about the Jewish component of that education. We need to prioritize our childrens' connection to Israel and their Jewish roots.
Our mission statement for Aleph Beit Chadash Hebrew School is to strengthen that connection and instill pride in every child in their rich Jewish culture. As a school, we look forward to partnering with parents in the honourable mission to build a strong, proud, Jewish future generation.