By Laura Seymour
It is an honor to have people come up to me and say that they read my article and really liked it, or maybe even learned something from it. I am surprised that these comments come from people of all ages, not just families with children. But that brings up the question, “Who is my audience?”
This may sound surprising, but as someone who is devoted to teaching children, my strongest belief is that the best way to do it is to first teach adults. In fact, the sages once argued about what to do if you had only enough money to teach the father or the son, but not both. Who should get priority? The decision was a “no brainer” to those sages: The father must receive the learning, and he will teach his children!
Each day I sit with preschoolers, teaching values, telling stories and creating memories. The little ones listen, and so do the teachers, who often come back to me with questions and reflections. My hope is that all ages can learn and pass on the wisdom they have gained — in all directions and to all people. As Ben Zoma says, “Who is wise? He who learns from all people.”
We can teach our children about the “how tos” of Judaism. But we can also learn from children, especially about faith and belief. Children have no trouble talking about God or believing the stories; we, the adults, are the ones who often struggle with belief.
This week I leave you with the challenge to continue learning, questioning — and even struggling — with faith. Here is a quote from eJewishPhilanthropy.com contributor Art Green: “The question is not: ‘Do you believe that God created the world, and when?’ but rather ‘Do you encounter a divine presence in the natural world around you’ and ‘What does that encounter call you to do?’”
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.