Shalom from the Shabbat Lady

By Laura Seymour
Dear Families,
A very important concept in Jewish life is kehillah — community! It is so important to us that even rain and swine flu didn’t keep thousands of people from coming to the Israel Independence Day Celebration last week. We also had a memorable evening for Yom HaZikaron. As a people, we have always mourned together and celebrated together. This is the lesson we must teach our children — no one is alone and each of us is responsible for one another.
How do we teach this important concept? From the Torah to the ancient sages to the lessons today, we have stories to help us learn. Beginning in the book of Genesis when Cain asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” we hear the answer loud and clear: YES! The lessons of giving tzedakah demonstrate that we are to help all those in need, and even the one who receives tzedakah must give back to the community. Our children sing in preschool “Hiney Ma Tov u-Ma Nayim” — they learn the message of “how good it is for all people to live together in peace.”
The best thing we can do to teach our children is to live this value. Be part of the community: Go to your synagogue, participate at the JCC and take a trip to Israel. What makes our Dallas celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut so unique is the way our entire community comes together to plan and to enjoy. The need to belong is a basic need for all of us. Let us give our children their connection to the Jewish community and to Israel. Let us also create an environment, in all of our organizations, that is welcoming.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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