Tonight The Swimmy will get consecrated at our synagogue. She will put on a pretty dress with a twirly skirt (the only really important characteristic to fashion in her mind), she will go up on the pulpit with 50 other five-year olds, recite some very important blessings and get her own little tiny Torah to keep as a reminder of the occasion that marks the (formal) beginning of her religious education.
There will be much singing, picture taking and marching around the sanctuary with the Torahs and she will have a great time and take with her a great memory.
There are a lot of things I worry about for her as she grows up. I worry that…
…pop culture’s views of dating, marriage and family will have an impact that I can’t fight off.
…the fashion images that bombard her every moment of every day will affect her self-image in a way I can’t deflect.
…while I don’t want her to grow up in a bubble, I won’t be able to safeguard all the technology she’ll grow up with – and the Internet is no place for kids.
…some boy will break her heart.
…some girl will break her spirit.
…when it’s time for her to face the world on her own, she won’t be ready.
But the thing I worry most about, because it is the foundation for warding off all these issues, is that she won’t have faith.
I take her religious education and life very seriously. So seriously, that Husband and I are considering switching congregations because we’re not convinced the youth and education program does enough to support the kids and help them grow spiritually.
It’s not about the songs with the catchy tunes, the art projects where she makes a challah cover, a story about some animals on a boat with a guy in a rainstorm.
It’s about a sense of accountability for your actions, about an obligation to take care of the world, about a path that’s been set forth for you, but it’s up to you to make the right choices that keep you on that chosen path.
It’s about knowing there is something bigger, and a piece of that is inside you – so treat it with great honor and reverence.
It’s about family, education, obligation and tradition.
If she has all these things, I know her life will be one of happiness, love and success. She will make good choices – in life and love. She will build a family built on solid foundations. And when life becomes unbearably difficult, she will know the right answers are not the easiest ones, but the only ones.
Formally, all of this starts tonight – with a twirly dress, a little blessing and a little Torah. Silently, it’s the first step in a long lesson that will become a life’s journey. May G-d grant us all the grace and wisdom to help her on the journey so that one day she may do the same for her children.
Ken Yehi Razon – may it be G-d’s will. Amen.