Torah Schmooze

Dear MJDS Community, 

I’m Joel Alter, parent of twin 1st graders Annael and Ayelet. We’re having a great year at MJDS. 

With a new year underway, I want to celebrate an important initiative from MJDS’s Gev. Mara Kleiman, and to encourage more of us to participate: Wednesday Morning Torah Schmooze. 

Each Wednesday from right after 8AM until about 8:45, parents have gathered for discussion on a theme guided by a discussion leader - maybe
a parent, maybe a community rabbi, maybe someone who’s both. The prompts for our discussions have varied, from the big but specific question of what guidance Jewish tradition has for raising Jewish kids, to an issue drawn from the Torah portion of the week, such as ‘What defines oppression?’. The presenters open the issues by cracking open the passages they bring. Maybe the Torah, maybe poems, maybe other Jewish texts. 

The participants bring just one thing: open hearts. 

This initiative reminds me why I enrolled my children at MJDS: to help them be literate in Jewish tradition not only by gaining specific content knowledge, but by internalizing that tradition is about them and about us - it’s about the lives we live and aspire to. Tradition is not something external to us, an outside resource to be accessed or not, but fundamentally it is a part of us. In order for that to be true for them, it has to be true for us. We have to learn and relearn how to encounter texts and ideas from our tradition in a way that we’re open to them and they’re open to us. The fact that I’m a rabbi in the community does not guarantee that I’m always open to tradition’s voice. Like anyone else, I need to be reintroduced to it all the time. 

I’m excited about being in this conversation with you. I’m eager for the discoveries that are possible when we open ourselves to the texts of our tradition. Because we have a common stake in this outcome as parents, we’re already primed for this conversation. I’ve already seen that participants are helping one another see clearly and with insight, are lifting each other up, and are forming a community of grateful seekers. I’d love to see more parents join. 

The Wednesday morning time slot works for some of us and not others. Perhaps we can find alternative time slots during the week. Please be in touch with Gev. Kleiman to let her know what’s possible for you. 

Thank you to Gev. Kleiman and MJDS. Thank you for considering being a part of this new facet of the wonderful MJDS community. 

Joel Alter