Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

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 together? The “Jewish” way to learn has been to take an important piece of written information from any time or age (although we do start with the Torah text) and then with a friend, we try to understand all the deeper meaning to the words. Our goal is to learn from those wiser and to give meaning to the lessons for our lives today. 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 talk about learning and teaching. As we end the school year, let us continue our learning together.
“Constant study is not study all day, but each day,” Israel Salanter Lipkin said.
“Those who learn for the purpose of teaching, receive inspiration,” reads the Midrash.
Two important quotations from the sages about learning, studying 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. Today we cry that we lack time — my challenge to you is to take the time and reap the rewards. I have often spoken of “Carpool Judaism.”  Instead of turning on a DVD, talk with the kids. 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.
How can we keep learning? Read! Read! Read! And then you must 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 begin now to open the doors for communication, the doors will never be locked.  What should you talk about?  Everything, but especially what is important to you — what you value — what you imagine! Let your children learn to explore new ideas and sense your wonder of the world. Then they will never stop wondering and imagining.  What a gift!
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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