Building Jewish Family Culture

Nov. 23, 2020

Source: The Times of Israel 


I feel a deep sense of joy and satisfaction having had the confirmation from longstanding educators with decades of experience what I have known since I started the Zehud Online Jewish School. Building school is building a community of parents and families. The whole ethos of our school is built and structured to support this end goal. Being online has taken us into their homes and hearts, and it is our privilege to treat that relationship with the utmost of care and delicacy.

As the head of an International Online Jewish School for many families who do not live in bustling Jewish neighbourhoods (as many do not in Europe) , I am involved both in fostering a positive Jewish school culture, as well as helping our parents foster a strong Jewish home culture, and though we live in an age of outsourcing, it is essential for Jewish parents to realise that it is their home culture that is the most impactful force that will shape the choices their children make.

I live in Venice, Italy. My community is tiny and aged. When we went into lockdown in March it was a Wednesday. When I came to light my candles on Friday, a remarkable sight awaited me. My children, realizing that there would be no shul on shabbat, had built one in our tiny kitchen. A shul the likes of which architects would be jealous, for it was perfect in detail. It had a women’s and men’s section, a small Aron Kodesh and Torah Scroll. They also included the contents; Prayer books and bibles, a bima with a small lamp and so endearing – a timesheet – so everyone knew at which times the prayers would be held. Honestly, I was absolutely overwhelmed with awe. I wondered from where did these inherent and clear understandings derive?

At our last monthly parents meeting, our topic was just this. Building family culture, and how we can include Jewish rituals and habits into that family culture, where every family is unique and practices are personalized. Our parents shared with us some of their magnificent insights into how they are meshing Jewish elements into their family culture, and we all contributed our ideas for more. Among them habits for prayer and meditation, music and song and even, not to be under estimated, the role that clothing plays in infusing a sense of importance into our experiences.

At the Zehud Jewish Online School, I am privileged to say, we are leading this conversation, and I say it not from a place of ego, but from a place of sincere satisfaction and gratitude that we are on the right track, not just for our families, but for the future of Jewish Europe.

Read the entire article at The Times of Israel.


Updated: Dec. 09, 2020