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June 16, 1989 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-06-16

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

I CLOSE-UP I

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UNCOMMON CARE

Jewish Father

Continued from preceding page

red not necessarily because
they were Jews, but more
because so many of them were
well-educated intellectuals, or
upper-middle professionals.
This gave them a flexibility
and a perspective often
unavailable to other social
classes.
The rise of the New Father
meant there was now an op-
tion for the Jewish father. He
need be neither a patriarch
nor a distant provider. In-
stead, he could be more nur-
turing, more touching, more
giving, more emotional.
But this is not happening
overnight. To feminist writer
Susan Weidman Schneider,
women's accelerated entry in-
to the workforce has brought

Missing now from
Jewish fatherhood
is a sense of the
father as someone
who knows what
he believes in, the
father as a rabbi in
his own house.

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perils as risky as those that
accompanied Jewish fathers'
previous roles.
"When, in previous genera-
tions, both parents were en-
trepreneurs or wage-earners,"
she said, "it was obvious that
they were working outside
the home to better the
economic status of the whole
family. Now it's less clear
what's gained. Children corn-
pete with their parents' love
for their work, which parents
find so alluring. This is
especially true in Jewish
families and for Jewish
fathers because they have
grown up believing that their
work will provide nachas
(pride) for themselves and
their parents."
Schneider is encouraged
that such leading Jewish in-
stitutions as New York's 92nd
Street YM-YWHA offer tod-
dler groups for fathers and
their children. But she would
like to see workshops at JCCs
on estate planning for men
balanced by more workshops
on family intimacy, and more
thought given to providing
baby-sitting at Jewish in-
stitutions for men who attend
meetings there and to
recognize that fathers may be
care-givers for their young
children.
But author Moskowitz is
"amazed" at the extent of her
son and son-in-law's care for
their newborn children.
"They truly share time
with the babies with their
wives," she said. Moskowitz

was especially stunned a few
weeks ago when her son took
his baby with him to a United
Jewish Appeal meeting in
New Jersey — a meeting that
he was leading.
The Jewish father has come
a long way from the biblical
patriarch who owned all of a
family's property and was its
chief authority. According to
Genesis and Psalms, he was
expected to be benevolent and
show love — and, also, pity —
to his wife and children; his
blessing back then carried
the force of law. But maybe
something has been lost in to-
day's "humanization" of the
father. Sometimes today, he is
more of a pal than an authori-
ty; often, he has lost either
his taste for moral exhorta-
tions — or the prerogative to
issue them. It is difficult, for
instance, to imagine today's
father bequeathing the sort of
deathbed advice that Rabbi
Akiva offered to his son, Rab-
bi Joshua, in medieval times:
My son, do not sit and study
at the busiest point of a town
(where you won't be able to
concentrate);
do not live in a town whose
leaders are scholars (because
they are too preoccupied with
their studies);
do not enter your own house
suddenly, and especially not
your neighbor's house;
and do not go without shoes.
Rise up early and eat, in
summer because of the heat
and in winter because of the
cold . . . ;
and strive to be on good
terms with someone upon
whom the fortune of the hour
smiles.

The father of today, as will
the father of tomorrow, seeks
that optimal balance between
authority and per-
missiveness, between sweet
indulgence and wise limits.
As with any search for the op-
timal, it is frustrating and, in
the end, probably futile. But
there is no denying that it is
worth the effort. Ask any
father. Ask any child. 0

NEWS 1

JTS Revises
Rabbinic
Requirements

New York (JTA) — Students
with limited Jewish
backgrounds may find it
harder to enroll at the Jewish
Theological Seminary Rab-
binical School, as a result of
extensive changes in cur-
riculum that will begin in
September.
The new admissions stan-
dards will require certain

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