It wasn’t that long ago that Jews were asking themselves, “Will my grandchildren be Jewish?”
Today, however, when many young adults find no reason to affiliate with a synagogue and the time between the years they lived under your roof to those when they have children of their own has stretched much further, the question many parents should be asking themselves is, “Will my children be Jewish?”
And so, as you prepare for the coming Passover season, I wish to pose four questions that you will not find in your haggadah:
- What are you doing to create a positive Jewish identity for your children?
- Do you take time to mark Shabbat with your family, lighting the candles, talking about the week’s events, blessing your children—or is that the night you hire a babysitter so you can go out with friends or see a play?
- Do your children have Hebrew names? Do they know for whom they were named and what
the names mean?
- Do you “do as you say” when it comes to acts of social justice, tzedakah, worshiping, visiting the sick, and comforting the bereaved?
Your synagogue, Jewish camps, NFTY events, and trips to Israel all play an important role in building Jewish identity. But the most important factor, by far, is what you do, day in and day out, in your family. After all, when Jews are questioned about how they identify as Jews, the most commonly cited answers are lighting Chanukah candles and attending a Passover seder—home rituals that form strong Jewish memories.
For help in building your children’s Jewish identity from infancy through college, point your browser to the Union for Reform Judaism’s website, www.urj.org. You’ll find ideas and recipes to incorporate into your seder, Jewish activities to share with your children—and some you might try on your own.
And, as you plan your seders, do all you can to involve your children in the planning process and the events. You’ll be investing in their Jewish future.
Peter Weidhorn, Chairman
Union for Reform Judaism Board of Trustees