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September 09, 1988 - Image 58

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-09-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Best wishes for a
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58

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 1988

HOLIDAYS

Abramson recently became
director of the department of
education for United
Synagogue of America, the
Conservative Jewish move-
ment, after 13 years as head-
master of Hillel Day School,
in Farmington Hills.
"People who are concerned
about Judaism in their lives,
in the children, are increas-
ingly aware that they have to
work at it," says Rabbi
Abramson. The community,
he says, is not going to take
care of instilling religion in
their children.
Rabbi
Traditionally,
Abramson explains, the com-
munity was the cornerstone
of religious education. "If you
grew up in (certain) neighbor-
hoods, you didn't have to be
observant, or even religious,
to have your kids aware of
Judaism. It was all around
them. Now the neighborhoods
are different."
Rabbi Abramson cites two
other changes that have
resulted in the current paren-
tal awareness. Grandparents,
for one, were first generation
immigrants who spoke Yid-
dish and lived nearby. "Now
all the grandparents I know
are born here and speak
English," he says. "Parents
can't assume their children
will pick up the religion from
the grandparents." For
another, Jewish families in
general now are scattered
around the country, and may
not be able to get together
easily for holiday celebra-
tions.
Thus, Rabbi Abramson has
seen a rise in Succoth obser-
vance. Erecting a sukkah has
become an increasingly
popular activity, because, he
believes, "It's family oriented,
and it's very tangible." As a
Jewish educator, he couldn't
be more delighted by the
trend. "I've often said
Christmas time is too late —
to worry about the lights and
the decorations and etcetera.
Succoth is the answer."
Family get-togethers at
holidays like Thanksgiving
fit the bill, and the more ex-
tended the celebration, the
better.
Both Abramson and Roten-
berg, have several suggestions
how to make the upcoming
High Holidays a family event.
Parents shouldn't mimic the
lessons taught in the Jewish
schools although they, along
with your particular affilia-
tion, will no doubt be an in-
fluence. The family should
belong to a congregation that
offers High Holiday children's
services. (If not offered, says
Rabbi Abramson, start them.)
"This year presents a
challenge because the
holidays come early (Rosh

Hashanah begins sundown
Sun. Sept. 11; Yom Kippur,
Tues. Sept. 20), which means
parents have to do things the
school would ordinarily have
done," says Rabbi Abramson.
Abramson suggests bed-
time reading to involve the
children. "The stories get in-
to their consciousness."
Another device is to
translate the underlying
theme of the holiday into
family activities. Rosh
Hashanah's theme is
creation.
Before the holiday, ask your
child, "What are the things
we can be thankful for?" One
way to illustrate this is to
take a nature walk together,
or tour your own backyard,
looking for "God's secrets,
like a bird's nest, or watch the
sun rise and the flowers
grow," says Rabbi Abramson.

"If you grew up in
certain
neighborhoods,
you didn't have to
be observant, or
even religious, to
have your kids
aware of Judaism.
It was all around
them."

Another activity is a fami-
ly discussion of "tzedekah"
(charity). "You can say to the
child, 'We have $10 or $25 or
whatever the amount, and
where should we give it?' The
point is that we're all in-
volved," Abramson
Comments.
For Yom Kippur, whose
theme is repentence, he sug-
gests a family discussion on
what each would do different
for a week. "Not a year," he
cautions. "You have to talk in
a time frame kids can under-
stand:' Another activity is for
family members to write each
other notes, to clear the air of
hurts and grudges ac-
cumulated during the year.
Rotenberg has concrete sug-
gestions, too. But she em-
phasizes that to be most effec-
tive, holiday activities with
your child should not be a
one-shot deal. Rather, they
should be on-going, for all the
holidays and for every
Shabbat.
"Children's comprehension
is a lot greater than their ver-
balization skills," Rotenberg
explains. "If you do some-
thing with them on a weekly
basis, they become comfor-
table and familiar with it."
For three- to four-year olds,
whose time concept is limited,
Rotenberg suggests gearing
up for the holidays about a
week beforehand; for older

1

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