As we gather to celebrate the arrival of the Jewish New Year, I want to suggest that we all undertake a small experiment during this High Holiday season. That small experiment? Observing and learning from the young children in our communities.
My hypothesis is that if we all take a few moments to observe and learn from our children, our High Holy Day experiences will have richer meaning. That’s because they have so much to offer us without even knowing it. And because their tremendous wisdom is often overlooked.
When it comes to learning from children, I consider myself something of an expert. That’s because my work, guiding the Judaic and Hebrew studies programs at The Alfred & Adele Davis Academy, requires me to be. My daily interactions with students from ages 4 to 14 serve as a constant reminder that our youth are a precious and wise treasure.
If you choose to participate in this experiment, be prepared to observe some or all of the following: Our youth ask and grapple with big questions. They strive to lead authentic and purposeful lives. They behave, quite naturally, with tremendous menschlichkeit. They are caring, kind, empathetic and community-minded. Ask them what they value? Ask them how they think people should behave and treat one another? Ask them how they think the world could be a better place and how we can get there? Ask them to tell you stories about what is important to them?
Ask them what prayer means and what they think of God? You and I will be delighted by their willingness to engage with us and their wise and thoughtful responses.
Among the great gifts that our youth so naturally embody is their ability to make the most of each day. Each day is a chance to live to the fullest. Each day is a chance to learn from past mistakes and missteps. Each day is a chance to live the values that guide and define us. While Rosh Hashanah ushers in a special season in our Jewish calendar, our youth are a reminder that every new day and each new moment is precious, unique and full of potential.
If you undertake this experiment at my suggestion, please reach out and let me know how it goes! L’shana tova!