did you decide to write KOSHER PARENTING?
I turned 60, time became more focused for me, more condensed.
The rabbis in the Talmud refer to this time of life as zikna,
old age, but the word is also an acronym for Hebrew phrase
meaning "one who has acquired wisdom." Having
acquired a measure of life's wisdom, I wanted to share it
what do you base your parenting approach?
approach is based upon (1) the conviction that there is
a God who rules the world, and (2) that He revealed Himself
at Sinai through the Torah, and (3) that the Torah is essentially
an instructional manual for living.
In sum, the Torah and the collective wisdom of the rabbis,
who have studied Torah and interpreted the Talmud over the
ages, provide role models to emulate and concepts and laws
that tell us about how to lead a moral and sensible life.
me an example of what you mean.
this. The Torah tells us that every human being is created
in the image of God. This means that everyone is unique
and possesses infinite value. Therefore, I cannot trample
upon the feelings of others. Rather, I must be sensitive
to others and respect everyone's uniqueness, especially
that of my parents, who, by Torah law, I am bound to both
honor and serve.
KOSHER PARENTING a book only for Jews?
the Torah is the guidebook for Jews, the principles of spiritual
living, morality, sensitivity, and respect are fundamentally
the same in most religions. While the basic tenets of each
religion may be different, the fundamental lessons of spiritual
parenting are applicable to all, regardless of faith. Hence,
KOSHER PARENTING can be viewed either literally if one is
Jewish, or figuratively, as in doing the right thing, if
one holds another faith.
according to Jewish tradition, are the main things a parent
has to teach a child?
from the Talmud explicitly states the obligations of a parent.
A parent must teach his child Torah, i.e. give him moral
education: teach him a trade or give him the tools to earn
a living; and, according to many sages, teach him how to
swim. In the view of some, teaching a child how to swim
refers not to actual swimming but to swimming through life.
do you feel KOSHER PARENTING is so important now?
me share with you an anecdote. As principal of a Jewish
day school, one of my many tasks was to discuss the Jewish
view of sex with our seventh graders. To facilitate the
dialogue with a minimum of embarrassment, I asked the boys
(a rabbi's wife had a similar talk with the girls) to submit
questions for discussion beforehand. One question I received
reminded me just how dramatically times have changed since
I was a Jr. High school student many years ago: "Are
you allowed to have oral sex according to Jewish law?"
The fact that this is even on the minds of seventh graders
today is revealing. That it would be a topic of discussion
is nothing less than surprising. Clearly, parenting today
involves a whole new array of skills and knowledge far beyond
what our own parents needed. It seemed, therefore, that
a knowledge of classical Jewish sources, combined with a
deep and wide-ranging host of life experiences, can help
provide a subtext for a consistent and coherent approach
to the challenge of rearing children in the 21st
century. One of my goals in writing this book was to share
such an approach with all parents.
is one important message parents can derive from KOSHER
patience, patience. Kids can get us angry, they can disappoint
us. But parents need to take the long-term perspective and
never give up on their kids. Let me tell you a story. About
5 years ago, I received a call from Daniel. He was a student
at Yeshiva High School of Atlanta in the late 70s. Although
a very bright boy, he was arrogant, disruptive, and disrespectful,
a "wise guy" in the classic sense of the term.
He was one of the few students who could really irritate
me, and, at the end of his high school career, I was truly
relieved when he graduated. Which is why the phone call
from Daniel was so unexpected. He was now married with children,
and he called me to ask for forgiveness for his atrocious
behavior in high school, and he wanted to make amends. He
also thanked me for my patience in dealing with him. I told
Daniel how pleased I was to hear from him and how much I
appreciated his thoughts so many years later. He then offered
to send the school a donation, which I happily accepted.
What this incident taught me was that parents need to be
patient with children as they journey through life. If we
expose our kids to the Bible/Torah, the eternal verities
of life, over a consistent period of time, our children
can become wise men, not wise guys.