Teach your children well. This is one of the many values we believe will sustain the future of the Jewish community.
I grew up in a family that was very engaged in community and Jewish life. My parents, Sydney and Florence Cooper, have always been generous givers both of their time and financially. They were a tremendous influence on me and my two siblings. When Steven and I married, we carried forward this tradition. We are blessed to be able to give back and be part of a vibrant Jewish community.
But is it enough just to follow in one’s parents footsteps? How do we make giving more uniquely our own? And how do we inspire the next generation to make tzedakah a meaningful part of their lives so they take on this value and eventually pass it on to their kids and so on?
We asked these questions when our eldest daughter, Lily, was celebrating her Bat Mitzvah.
This defining moment shifted us in our own approach to tzedakah. Giving was no longer just about following in our parents’ footsteps. We saw clearly a new dimension – that we were a conduit to pass on the values of tzedakah to the next generation. We saw a personal responsibility and opportunity to teach our children so that they could experience what it is to give back to those less fortunate. It’s both a gift and a responsibility.
At their bat/bar mitzvahs, we made sure that each of our children, Lily, Jack, Yael and Phoebe, experienced meaningful opportunities to give back to those in need at a time when they were receiving so much.
There are many other paths to teach children well. Jewish education, Jewish life at home, participating in the community, allowing for one’s own expression of giving – and more.
We are so proud to see our children now as young adults honouring the traditions of tzedakah – each in their own unique way. As they start their own families they will have the gift and responsibility of inspiring and teaching their children.
Lifelong lessons – lifelong giving. How else will we ensure continuity of Jewish values and a vibrant, strong community?