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Challenges for Jewish families in the 21st century

11/07/2019 10:24:21 AM


Rabbi Dan Dorsch

This week, I did something a little subversive. But first, a little background:


There is little question that the decision whether or not to send our children to school on festivals like Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, or Simchat Torah, let alone on the High Holy Days, is challenging for Jewish families living in 21st century America.


Every year, our attendance grows for these holidays among our adult population. As a synagogue, we’ve made some additional programming to make those holidays extra joyous. Yet in Cobb County, when it comes to bringing our children or grandchildren with us to synagogue for holiday services that fall on weekdays, I am afraid our public schools rule the roost. Being truly candid, I suspect for some of you that coming to morning services on Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Passover, of Shavuot, isn’t even on the radar screen.


When the Jewish holidays fall on a weekday, Debbie Deutsch runs an educational program for kids in our Preschool. Thankfully, until this year, this meant Zev has always had a friend in synagogue. Unfortunately, now that he’s started kindergarten, he’s begun to notice that it’s different.


“Daddy,” he groans before we begin our walk to shul: “Are there going to be kids in synagogue this time?”


Zev’s sharp question inspired my subversive act. I posted an article from Teen Vogue  written by a Jewish high schooler about how challenging it is for him to take off public school for the holidays. I wanted to see how members of our community would respond. Was this something members of our community were thinking about? Interestingly, there were a range of responses. I hope those of you on our Etz Chaim Virtual Kiddush page on Facebook will log on to see them.


Next time, my response to Zev will be “not yet.”


Not only as a rabbi, but as a parent, there is nothing I won’t do to try to make my child happy. All I need is for someone in our community with a 5-8 year old child to help this time.

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Thu, February 20 2020 25 Shevat 5780