Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review Jan. 8, 2000 / 13 Teves 5761


My kid hates Hebrew school; Stay single or abandon heritage?


By Wendy Belzberg

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- The issue of Jewish continuity seems to be the focus of every article I read and every lecture I attend. I would love to marry within my faith, but I cannot imagine opting to remain single rather than intermarry. If the Jewish community is so concerned about the intermarriage rate, why doesn't it do more to facilitate the meeting of Jewish singles? Singles events sponsored by the local Jewish Community Center, UJA or synagogue do not do the trick.

Touché. It is time for leaders of the Jewish community to put their money where their mouths are: Hire full-time matchmakers. Though the word matchmaker may conjure up images of Tevye and his daughters, it is no different than being set up by a friend on a blind date - which happens to be where I met my husband, for the record. The local matchmaker should have a financial incentive for good performance and get a bonus based on the number of Jewish marriages for which he or she can claim responsibility. The Rabbi of each local synagogue can do his part too; rabbis need to focus as much of their attention on the singles as they do on recruiting new families. With their help, the former will ultimately become the latter. And who better to doa little reconnaissance work than a trusted leader of the community?

Why not stop all the talk about intermarriage and actually do something between shuls. I toss down the gauntlet and challenge any and every community to pick it up.

* * *

My son is 8 years old and attends Hebrew School twice a week. He goes kicking and screaming and returns griping and moaning. In short, he hates it. My intent was to teach him about his heritage and history; instead, I feel like I'mteaching him to hate his religion. I think it's time to stop forcing him to go. What do you think?

If you are also planning to yield to your son's aversion to making his bed in the morning and doing his homework after school, it seems only fair that he not be forced to go to Hebrew School. But I'm guessing you're not.

The problem is not with your son. Your son's Hebrew School teacher is responsible for engaging him and making the material meaningful. Have you spoken to the director of the school and his teacher, and have you considered auditing his class? You must do your part by connecting his heritage and what he is learning at Hebrew school to his daily life. Do you have Shabbat dinners at home, discuss the weekly Torah portion and celebrate the holidays?

If you can't hang tough with your 8 year old over Hebrew School, I would not want to be around when he turns 13 and makes a compelling argument for why he doesn't want a bar mitzvah, or why, at 16, he must have his own car. Your challenge goes to the heart of parenting: getting your children to do what you want while making them believe they are getting what they want.


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© 2001, Wendy Belzberg