Dear Parents and Children,
School is drawing to a close but learning never ends. Throughout Jewish history study has always been important. For many today, studying Jewish topics is daunting. So, let us begin by learning the following two texts together.
Uh-oh. What is a text, how do we learn texts, what do you mean by “together”? The Jewish way to learn involves focusing on important piece of written information from any time or age, such as text from the Torah. Then, with a friend or family member, we try to understand all the deeper meaning to the words.
Our goal is to learn from wiser individuals, and to give meaning to today’s life lessons. We find that the same issues and concerns have been around for a long time, and each generation and each person must struggle for meaning.
The two texts below discuss learning and teaching.
“Constant study is not study all day, but each day.” —Israel Salanter Lipkin
“Those who learn for the purpose of teaching, receive inspiration.” —Midrash
Here are two important quotations from the sages about learning through study and teaching. First, it is especially important for us as adults, as busy parents, to take time to learn both for ourselves and for our children. You might claim you don’t have time. My challenge to you is to take the time, and reap the rewards. For example, I have often spoken of “Carpool Judaism.” Instead of giving the kids a laptop, phone or movie to watch while driving them to and from school, or to other activities, talk with them. The car is a perfect place for all kinds of discussions. As our children grow up, many of us have found that the car is often the best place for those really big topics. First of all, your child is captive. And, second, you do not need to look at each other.
Meanwhile, how can we keep learning? Read, read, read. And, when you’re done reading, you can talk, talk, talk.
As the Midrash says, when you learn to teach, you are inspired. Begin now to spend time with your children, both reading and talking. Start by saying, “I want to tell you about a good book I read” or “I was listening to a friend and I wanted to share these ideas with you.” If you and your children open the doors for communication now, those doors will never shut or be locked.
Talk about everything, especially what is important to you, what you value, and what you imagine. Teach your children to explore new ideas and sense your wonder of the world. When you do that, they will never stop wondering and imagining. As we end the school year, be sure to continue your learning together.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.
Dear Parents and Children,