Out of Town

We moved 1000 miles away from our friends and family and just had a new baby....

Monday, October 23, 2006

Teaching Good Middos

Last night, our school held the kick-off for the new middos program they are running, called Project D.E.R.E.C.H. The goal is to get the entire school, from pre-K to 8th, involved...including the parents. Every week a note will come home about the mitzvah of the week. This week is tzelem elokim. In the future there will be lessons on kavod av v'em, respecting teachers, etc. The kids learn about specific mitzvos associated with the commandment/midda and parents need to "catch" their kids doing the mitzvah.

The best part about this, is that it will involve not only kodesh teachers, but the chol teachers as well. As many of the chol teachers are not religious and some not jewish, this is a great development. In the past, the kids at this school, as will many yeshivish schools, acted more than a little chutzpa to their non-religious or non-jewish teachers. This program is designed to combat that, and to teach the kids that they can learn good middos from non-jews and non-frum jews just like they can from their morahs and rebbes.

The speech last night was by R' Zvi Kaminetsky and was excellent, although it went a little late. The main point of his speech was that parents are teachers, and are, in fact, the most important teachers. In order to be able to correct a child, rebuke a child, punish a child, you first need to have a strong loving relationship. The child needs to know that you will always love him, and there is nothing they can do to make you stop loving them. But, that some behaviors are not appropriate. He said that the most powerful words can be "Kleins don't do that" or "we don't do that in the Schwartz family." Teach the kids pride in their family.

I really am hopeful for this program. The Rabbi said we should not refer to it as a project, b/c projects can easily be given up. We should think of this as a career change. Every parent in the room will become a teacher to his or her children.

One last point, I was so happy to see a great turn out. There are probably about 80 families in our school, and I would say 75% of them were represented by at least one parent. It gives me a lot of hope that we will see some better middos from our kids.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Grown up Cliques?

In the city we live in, there are between 400 and 450 shomer shabbos families, divided between three communities, We live in the largest area, with about 250 families. There are five Orthodox shuls here (2 chabad, 2 standard MO and one "traditional" that does not have a mechitza but has a second mechitza minyan). It is a friendly, welcoming place and people, at least in our part of town get along ok.

There is, however, one problem in our community: Cliques. I am not talking about groups of friends. Everyone has their friends that they are closer to and I have not problem with that. I would hope that everyone would have a core group of friends. The problem I see is that people are getting mean to each other. There are dirty looks going around shul, people don't talk to other people. I feel like there is a lot of judging going on about what you are wearing, both in terms of fashion and in terms of what is on your head.

We have a diverse community. There are women here who cover their hair all the time and some who never do. There are women who wear pants and tank tops and some who always wear stockings. There are men in kippa sruga, velvet and even a few streimels. The diversity of thought, dress, and custom is one of the things that we really loved about this community. But I am afraid that is starting to change.

The old timers here (people who came here 10 or more years ago) feel that the newbies are trying to change their community and make it too frum. The people who are more traditionally observant are trying to make policies about kashrut and other things that are excluding people who were traditionally the leaders of the community. But I don't' think that is the whole story. I think the cliquiness is from a different place. I don't feel like it is new vs. old or frum vs. modern. But I do think it is hurting our community. It makes me sad to go to shul....