Raising Jewish children in today's secular culture poses unique and serious challenges. How do parents pass on a positive, vital sense of identity, religion, and heritage without turning their kids off or overwhelming them? How do you explain what it means to be Jewish if you are ambivalent about it yourself? And perhaps most important, how do parents who have had little or no formal religious training themselves pass on rich, multilayered traditions that may have been missing from their own childhood experiences?
In Becoming a Jewish Parent: How to Explore Spirituality and Tradition with Your Children, Daniel Gordis has written an invaluable guide for parents who are interested in introducing Judaism into their homes so that their children can grow up loving, understanding, and cherishing their heritage.
Filled with delightful and inspiring anecdotes, thoughtful information about the history, holidays, and traditions that shape Judaism, as well as a useful glossary and incredibly thorough reference section, this book is a vital resource that you will want to refer to again and again. Becoming a Jewish Parent tackles major issues in contemporary life and offers thoughtful approaches and insights to dealing with such complicated subjects as using ritual to make space for feeling, talking about God when we have doubts, incorporating girls into what has been primarily a male tradition, and becoming part of a community that supports your ideals. Becoming a Jewish Parent is the book to turn to at every phase of a family's spiritual quest.
If being a good parent means having a subtle, sophisticated, and appropriate sense of what is "honest" when it comes to love, sex, police, the government, or other complicated issues, the same is clearly true with God. We could, when our children ask about God, tell them about all the things we're not sure about, all the reasons we could come up with to doubt that God is "out there."
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When kids ask parents questions about God, it can be difficult to know how to answer them. In Becoming a Jewish Parent, Daniel Gordis notes that parents could very well "tell [kids] all the things we're not sure about, all the reasons we could come up with to doubt that God is 'out there.'" But he suggests a different approach. When answering children's questions about God, Gordis suggests that parents pause to consider what drives their children's curiosity.
Is our job at such moments to give our kids information, or is it to build a safe, secure, nurturing sense of the world, one in which they can begin to make Jewish life a core part of who they are? When we talk to our kids about God, we're not 'information providers.' Rather, we're 'world builders,' the people who are most responsible for the outlook on life our children will develop and carry with them for a lifetime.Handling the God question is just one topic in this extensive reference book that includes chapters on all of the major Jewish holidays, birth rituals for boys and girls, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, dating, going to college, and difficult experiences such as divorce and death and burial. Gordis, a rabbi and professor with three children of his own, has a lively and personable voice, and even his apparently unconventional ideas are grounded in his deep knowledge of Jewish Scripture and tradition. From the Back Cover:
"This book is a gem. It shows us how to enrich our childrens' lives with Judaism, from the moment they wake up to that blessed moment they fall asleep--and everything in between. In the process, we become better parents and smarter Jews."
--Ari L. Goldman, author of The Search for God at Harvard
"Once again, Rabbi Daniel Gordis takes the lead in showing us the spiritual fire at the heart of Judaism. This time, he teaches us how to make a Jewish home-fire--a warmth we can teach to our children, an illumination of the soul that will brighten the family life of every reader."
--Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, author of Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times
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