As we wrapped up the Hanukkah Holiday, I was thinking of Jewish education – not our children’s but ours. As I’ve mentioned before Hanukkah (Chanukah) is connected to the word chinuch, education in Hebrew. I often hear women sigh in dismay at the level of Jewish education they’ve managed to provide their kids via a Sunday School/Hebrew School program, AND then sigh at their own level of education. They wished they knew more. They wished the circumstances around their own Jewish education had been different.
I actually, always ask my guests on Jewish Latin Princess Podcast to finish the following statement, “Something I wished I had learned about Judaism growing up is…”
In the past few weeks I’ve had more than one guest tell me … “Everything!”
Very often I hear … “the deeper meaning of things in our religion; not just the rituals or the stories.”
This is all actually uplifting and positive.
No apathy. Recognition that there is more to learn and that for whatever reason we didn’t get that education. GREAT! Now, let’s go do something about it!
We can’t leave it at just a recognition – we have to take the thought into action! Here are three reasons why YOUR Jewish Education needs to make it to your goals list of 2018.
1- We owe it to ourselves and to the world
To learn about who we are, where we come from and what this tradition which has lasted thousands of years, actually has to offer. We can’t conform to being experts in our profession, hobbies passions and remain illiterate and ignorant about our own faith. Take ownership of your religion and learn about it.
Imagine if you based your budget on the way you thought about money as a child?
Imagine if you based your food choices on your understanding of food as a child?
Imagine if your understanding of love today was that you had as a child?
Unfortunately, for many of us, our undersanding of Judaism is at the level of an 8-12 year old, while our understanding of all other areas of our lives evolved and matured. And we judge Judaism from the perspective we had when we were children. Mh… Not only not fair. It’s not smart. Maybe it’s time we adult this area of life as well.
Here’s an easy trick to ease yourself into it. Take your field of study, work, or passion and learn what Judaism has to say about it. Begin your exploration of Judaism from an angle that you’re already interested in and knowledgeable of. You will appreciate the learning as it will serve to enrich and expand what you already know. That will trigger your curiosity and then keep learning Judaism’s approach to other areas of life.
2- We owe it to our children
We can’t expect our children to be interested, curious about, or express love and affection for something that we don’t care about, know nothing about, and are not curious about. At the minimum, we will end up with children that are at our level of Jewish education. Is that what we really want? We can do SO much better!
Modeling to our kids that we are comfortable exploring this area of our life – regardless of the circumstances around our previous Jewish education – sends the message to our kids that they can also explore their Judaism. Perhaps their interest will be more on Israel, on history, on spirituality, or on some other area that you’re not so familiar with or interested in, yet. That’s totally ok. You’ve given them the gift of teaching that even as an adult one can learn new things and one can find relevance in one’s heritage. What a beautiful way to educate our kids!
3- Thank G-d resources are plentiful and accessible
Today we have access to so many wonderful resources to learn Torah True Judaism in our languages and through examples and explanations that ring true to 21c life. You don’t need to be a Talmudic scholar to learn some of the most beautifully profound and practical aspects of our faith and tradition. (Jewish Latin Princess Blog and Podcast are of course just two of the many resources out there, but I also have a list of some of my favorite resources for you below.)
Basically, we have no excuse. We live in times of unprecedented religious freedom and of unprecedented dissemination of information. We can become totally literate on any subject known to man. Make Judaism one of those!
Adult Jewish Education Resources
Aside from Yours Truly and my style of presenting Jewish content through Jewish Latin Princess Blog and Podcast, I’ve put together a list of resources that you will find helpful as you seek to expand your Jewish knowledge.
Jewish Learning Institute – puts together fascinating and top notch courses on every Jewish topic you can imagine. The content and presentation has been made for the highly educated individual who is discerning as he/she is used to a high level secular education.
Chabad.org – endless amounts of content and a great resource for the mystical or spiritual dimension of anything in Judaism.
Jewish Workshops – Jewish Workshops offers webinars on all topics, from the leading experts in Torah knowledge. I haven’t taken them, but I know people who love these. I believe there is a membership fee. But, the also have free ebooks in various topics that could be a great way to introduce you to Jewish concepts and ideas that are perhaps related to an area of life that you’re curious about or struggling with.
Torah Cafe – I love Torah Cafe. The videos are free and there are so many of them!
The Office of Rabbi Sacks – I’m a big fan of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. His writing is powerful and I also enjoy his podcast. It’s not the lightest reading or listen, but if you’re more of an intellectual you will enjoy him.
Meaningful Life Center – Similar to Chabad.org in it’s approach and wealth of practical resources.
Aish – I’m not as familiar with their content, but they do have a lot.
Jew in the City – Alison Josephs has done a great job of portraying Torah True Judaism in a positive light and breaking stereotypes and beyond that, there is so much content in there that is educational and super relatable.
Now, I turn it over to you.
What do you wish you had learned about Judaism growing up? Please, let me know in the comments below.