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My family has a regular Shabbat practice,” says Stephanie Tankel, Washington Hebrew’s Director of Lifelong Learning. “And that means when it’s time on a Friday evening for us to light the candles, we make the world stop and we strike that match.”
If you’re a parent of young children, getting the world to stop for even a few minutes is a luxury. That’s where Parenting Is Hard; Judaism Helps comes in. This new class is designed to help parents navigate the challenges of raising a family. Led by Tankel and Rabbi Eliana Fischel — both parents of young children — the class will explore how Judaism can provide support, guidance, and a sense of community for parents.
Fischel and Tankel’s passion for helping parents stems from their own experiences as new moms. They recognized the need for a safe space where parents could connect, share their struggles, and discover the unique ways in which Judaism can enrich their parenting journey.
Rabbi Fischel says, “We can really think about the ways in which young families are having Judaism be part of their lives, because Judaism doesn’t work if it’s just inside the walls of a synagogue.” Thanks to a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, onsite childcare provided by WHC’s ECC (Early Childhood Center) teachers is included, allowing parents to focus fully on the class and connect with one another.
The class will delve into various Jewish holidays and traditions, examining how they can be incorporated into everyday parenting practices. From Shabbat’s emphasis on rest and self-reflection to Tu Bishvat’s focus on nourishment and growth, each holiday offers valuable insights for nurturing both children and parents.
The class was created as an outgrowth of what the two have learned over the past three years leading groups for pregnant women and new moms. One difference is that this class is open to everyone. Rabbi Fischel jokes, “It’s going to be weird. We don’t usually talk to dudes. We are so excited to do that.”
Tankel adds, “We know that building community, and feeling connected, and having a place to go, and then using Judaism to scaffold your way through all the coping that’s necessary in these processes is powerful, and it works.”
Parenting is Hard; Judaism Helps is not just about surviving the challenges of parenthood; it’s about thriving and finding joy in the journey. It’s about creating a home filled with love, laughter, and meaningful traditions that will last a lifetime.
“This can layer on an additional sparkle to their life.” Tankel says. “Maybe some of those moments of struggle outweigh even some of their moments of joy. Because things are really, really hard right now, they should come to this class.”
The class will be held once a month for four sessions, beginning in January, and is open to the community.
Washington Hebrew Congregation is committed to providing resources and support that empower Jewish families to thrive. Parenting Is Hard. Judaism Helps. is a testament to this commitment, offering a unique space for parents to find solace, inspiration, and a deeper connection to their Jewish heritage.
Support for Parenting Is Hard; Judaism Helps is provided by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
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