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

One comment on “Choices and Values

  1. Avraham Layzer (Larry) Kallus on

    Dear Ms. Jacobs,
    I could feel the nachas you felt from your kids, but worried about whether they had a peer group (their own age) of similarly identifying Jews; about what would happen when they came of dating age, of marrying age – wondered what their summer camp experience might be like (having gone to a Jewish day school, you may not realize the effects of being perpetually part of a minority – as opposed to feeling like a “regular kid” basically same as everyone else as you were in day school) (the effects of being in a Jewish camp where everyone is jewish, where jews are a majority even if just for the summer, is said to be able to make a positive contribution in building a positive Jewish identity, and jewish friendships – I also wondered if you could find such Jewish summer places where they might also build textual skills). Anyway, I wish you all well. Avraham

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