This Jewish School Tradition Needs to Change.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t see the problem with the Imma (mother) and Abba (father) of the classroom Shabbat ritual until a friend pointed it out. The opposite, honestly: when my three kids came home from school on Fridays, I eagerly asked who in their classes was given that honor. I made a big deal of it, especially when it was their turn. Because it is kind of a big deal: in kindergarten and first grade, every week one boy and one girl get to make the blessings over the candles, grape juice, and challah. They are given a sticker. They get to show off their knowledge. They love it.

I love it too. Or I did, until I realized that not every kid has an Imma and an Abba. And that not every kid will be an Imma or an Abba, or be an Imma in partnership with an Abba. And that, really, no little kid should be inhabiting the role of an Imma or an Abba.

2 comments on “This Jewish School Tradition Needs to Change.

  1. Emily on

    Yes! My daughter’s preschool has one Shabbat helper from each class of the oldest kids. This means there are 3 helpers each Friday, any mix of genders and family situations (and in her Reform preschool, they aren’t even all Jewish). Shabbat is presented as a time for song and friends and family.

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