Reviewed by N. Richard Greenfield ~
Certainly, the starting point in actually raising kids to love being Jewish is a parent’s own experience and upbringing. No doubt this will influence the choices parents make about how they want to raise their kids Jewishly. Here’s how the author phrases it. “Despite high assimilation rates, most Jewish parents also want their children to be proud Jews, to love their heritage and to stay Jewish. We may not be clear ourselves what this means, we may not do too much about it, but being Jewish means something to us. Deep down, we feel that being Jewish is something worth holding onto, worth the effort to be lovingly passed to the next generation”.
The fact is that two kinds of people read “How To” books, which is exactly what Raising Kids to Love Being Jewish is. First there are those new to the topic who need basic help with what to do and how to do it, and then there are those already immersed in the topic who are looking for affirmation of what they’re already doing or seek a bit more help with what they don’t know. This book manages the difficult task of talking to both audiences at the same time and bringing value to the conversation without regard to where those parents are in the process.
Few people come to this topic without some notion of what they want to do. In fact, in the note I enclosed to my son and daughter-in-law when I sent them this book, I noted that “you are already doing much of this,” and until I read this book I hadn’t realized that they were. From the ketubah on the living room wall to the little exercise they call “Thankful Thursdays,” which instructs about tzedakah, they are doing the job without considering the whole. Like many parents (and grandparents), they worry about what they are not doing and give themselves little credit for what they are doing already. We worry. And a little volume like this can make us worry less, while showing us how to do even more.
This book can also benefit parents who aren’t on a path to raising Jewishly immersed children. For them, serious discussions begin long before the child arrives. If they think that Jewish culture could be additive to their child’s life experience, this little volume could certainly be invaluable, particularly in homes where either or both parents didn’t have the benefit of a Jewish upbringing.
There are no magic answers on how to make kids love being Jewish and this book doesn’t pretend there that there are. But this modest volume does catalogue the many things that can be done to make the job promised in the title a bit easier. It neatly catalogues alternatives that can guide a family through what they know and introduces things they may not know and it organizes that body of knowledge with a deft hand. It does all this without preaching about what things may be right or wrong. It allows the family to prioritize its suggestions and aligns them with their own comfort zone and experience.
The book’s author, Doron Kornbluth, lives in Jerusalem and has written several other books on Jewish topics. He is a tour guide in Israel and has a writing style that both informs and entertains. For more information on Kornbluth and/or how to buy his book visit to www.doronkornbluth.com.
One of the recommendations on the cover of the book is from Sheila Romanowitz of the Greenwich Federation. That was part of what attracted us to the book and we’re grateful for it.