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Choices and Values

I went to an Orthodox day school. School was closed on Yom Tov as a matter of course.We all brought kosher lunches to school. No parties were held on Shabbat. Keeping mitzvot was just what was done. The halakha was kept through a mixture of school rules and social pressure.

My kids attend public school. Our home is kosher and we keep Shabbat. My kids don’t have the same level of facility with Jewish texts that I have by virtue of eleven years in Orthodox day school. I often regret that.

On the other hand, when I was keeping Shabbat and Yom Tov as a kid, there was no other choice. My kids are choosing to miss lovely events, like the senior camping trip that was held over Shavuot, or parties given by good friends. They have to struggle each year to make up all of the work that they inevitably miss during the month of Tishrei.

Our kids see exactly what they are choosing to give up, by choosing to do Jewish. My regrets at their lack of facility with say, Talmud, is mitigated by their continuing, even as adolescents and young adults to make thoughtful Jewish choices.

Not all of their choices are strictly halakhic. Those choices though, are made with thought. They, much more than my classmates in my Orthodox day school, are thinking about why they are doing the mitzvot each and every day. That too has it’s value.

–Sarah Jacobs