Last week I spent 9 hours in the hospital. I had some version of asthma, chest pains, anxiety, and maybe a little of all three. But I was pleased to be at Jersey Shore University Hospital from 8:50 am until 5:45 pm. I lay on a stretcher in the middle of a hallway all day. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but I did catch up on all my old emails and videos I wanted to see. I am fine. I have tests scheduled to ensure no severe health issues, and I need to manage my stress better. After twenty years as an attorney, it’s about time I take better care of myself. One of those videos I caught up on was from Rabbi Braun.
He is the Rabbi from the synagogue I attended for over ten years before moving in 2018. He talked about last week’s Bible portion, specifically when Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons, Menashe and Ephraim, in Genesis 48. Rabbi Braun was talking about a book he read that he disagreed with. The author argued that Joseph’s first two sons stayed Jewish, but his later kids (who aren’t mentioned in the Bible) would assimilate into Egyptian culture. This Rabbi, whose name I can’t remember, argued that Joseph took the time to raise his two kids properly when he was alone. However, when his family rejoined him, he relied more on the community and focused less on educating his kids. Consequently, those children lost their way.
That got me thinking, whose responsibility is it to educate our kids? Schools (public or private) to get an education? What about how to treat others? Is that the church’s or synagogue’s responsibility? What kind of people would we want our kids to be? What kind of lives are we leading? Do we tell our kids to lie about their ages to save $2 at the movies? Do we get drunk and violent with our loved ones? What example do we give them?
There are many ways to teach our kids, and schools and churches/synagogues can help, but the ultimate responsibility rests with us as parents. I am not suggesting taking your kids and home- chool them. Nor do I suggest you start arguing with your school board about, well, everything. I read about parents advocating for banning books because of something mentioned in the book. Censorship is never the answer. Consider what kind of people you want your kids to be: Kind, curious, compassionate, empathic, assertive, and resilient. You get the idea. Are you modeling those qualities for them?
If not, why not? How can we expect our kids to do and be things we won’t do? It is surprising how much time you have in the hospital to think. As we start this new year, I will be more mindful of what I say and do. To quote a shirt I saw, “Words are Nothing. Actions are Everything. Don’t Tell Me. Show Me.” What will you Show your kids?
Andres “Responsible” Mejer
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