Thursday, August 08, 2013
I came across an interesting article about the state of Hebrew school in America. I posted the article on a Jewish educators' discussion group, asking for thoughts and the educators who responded threw out some ideas about how to improve the framework, i.e. encouraging parents to take more responsibility for experiential and immersive Judaism in the home, etc.
I'm not a huge expert on the state of the American Jewish community but from the experiences that I've had with the people that I know (family members, social media friends, etc) the vast majority of American Jews no longer know how to celebrate Shabbat or Jewish holidays or even have any clue as to why it's worthwhile to celebrate.
One post, which came before I submitted the article for comments, was from a teacher who wanted to draw parents into a shul activity with the kids on Shabbat. She had a budget to offer fun activities, food, etc., but couldn't find takers.
So how are families supposed to provide their kids with a Jewish experience?
One of the criticisms of the article was that it's simply rehashing stuff that's been talked about for over 50 years, but that doesn't seem to be a criticism to me...that's just sad -- it means that since my dismal Hebrew school experience, little has changed.
Better subject though -- food.
When I was young our Shabbat dinners consisted of a dairy meal -- fried fish, blintzes, baked potatoes and...my favorite, when in season....corn on the cob. Saturday lunches were meat meals. I since discovered that Friday night fish was an English custom. I don't think that my mother knew that, but she did what her mother did, and my grandfather was English, so I assume that that's where the custom originated.
When I was in my teens my mother began to cook meat meals for both Friday night dinner and Saturday lunch. She said that it was easier, and it probably was -- she didn't have to fiddle with two sets of dishes -- but I always missed the Friday night fish meals. Whatever she did though, there were always two separate menus for both meals and that's a custom that I've maintained.
For this Shabbat I have completely different guests for both meals and I'm not supposed to have any kids at home, meaning that the only person who will be around for both meals will be me. And really, it's not worth creating two separate menus for just me. So this Shabbat I'm going to cheat and we're going to eat, more or less, the same food for both meals.
I feel so daring.
pasta and pesto (lots of basil growing outside)