Obsession with Education

Thursday, 2 November, 2017 - 11:20 pm

Let’s face it. Jews are obsessed with education. Last night I was at a Federation event honoring Lauren Ungar, winner of the inaugural Steeg/Grinspoon Excellence in Education Award. Dr. Scott Cowen, former president of Tulane University highlighted the event with an impassioned address concerning education, both Jewish and general. Universities and institutes devoted to education are studded with the names of Jewish donors. Jews are very involved in the cause of education for all. (I would love to see a much stronger commitment to Jewish day school education – but that is for another day.)

What is the origin of this fierce obsession with education? I would argue that it starts in this week’s Parsha. G-d declares His love for Avraham primarily because of his commitment “to educating his children and his household that they should keep the way of the L-rd to perform righteousness and justice.” (Genesis 18:19) Of all of the monumental achievements of Avraham, the one that Hashem singles out with His love, is the commitment to education in the ways of Hashem.

Now we all know that education is not only confined to the classroom. There are many opportunities (and hence obligations) to educate a child in other settings. Teaching by example is the foremost method of educating. Children pick up on their parents’ priorities by seeing how they conduct themselves.

We certainly recognize that after the home, a school is ground zero for education. (If I may, I would like to put in a plug for the school that is close to my heart – Torah Academy – where my children receive a top quality educational experience.) Yet, utilizing other possible scenarios for education is vital to giving the children a well-rounded appreciation for the values that we seek to impart to them.

As Chabad has had a measure of success in the area of developing educational opportunities in diverse settings, I would like to share with you a sampling of what is just around the corner.

Shabbat Adventures: (Chabad Uptown Youth Series) Saturday, November 4 - 11 AM-12 PM. An exciting monthly Shabbat program.

Kids in the Kitchen: (Chabad Metairie youth series) Sunday, November 5 – 3:30–5 PM. Utilizing cooking to teach about Kosher.

Kids Mega Challah Bake: (Camp Gan Israel and PJ Library) Sunday, November 12 - 3-4:30 PM. Teaching Shabbat through making challah.

Mommy & Me: (Chabad Uptown toddler program) Sunday, December 3 - 10-11:30 AM. Teaching Chanukah through crafts and activities.

Olive Press Craft Workshop: (Chabad’s Living Legacy Series) Being presented at schools all across the region.

Latke Tasting and Children’s Activities @ Whole Foods: (Arabella Station and Veterans) Sunday, December 10 1-4 PM.

Each of these programs is a means of bringing Judaism to the children in a setting that is hands on and exciting. The goal is to make Judaism fun and meaningful for the child. Doing this gives us a much better chance of having a lasting Jewish impact on that child’s life. Get involved in these programs by bringing your child or by learning how you can otherwise support them and ensure that NOLA Jewish children are being given the best opportunity to become successful and committed Jews.

Contact me directly to learn how you can support these important ventures. I look forward to hearing from you.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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