On Feb 26, 2022, my family hosted the kiddush for Brian’s 10th birthday party – first time double digits is an exciting chapter! The moment we entered synagogue, congregants wished Brian a happy birthday. Rabbinic Intern, Lily Lucy, welcomed us into the Hinei Ma Tov JLC event, by wishing Brian a good birthday and pointing out to the other students that the birthday table covers, balloons and food items were all set up so that the congregation could celebrate Brian entering his double-digit birthday. It made Brian feel so special.
At the end of the JLC Hene’ Ma Tov event, our family went into the sanctuary. Rabbi David Greenstein welcomed Brian to the front of the sanctuary to say the prayers over the wine and bread. As Brian walked up, the congregation sang Hayom Yom Huledet, which is the happy birthday song in Hebrew.
Brian just floated up to the front of the sanctuary enveloped in the singing and admiration of the congregation. My husband and I stood in the back of the sanctuary, simply admiring our little boy being given access to the adult services, and working with a Rabbi who ultimately is proving through this very moment, that the services belong to all of us, if we choose to be involved.
After I made a short speech thanking all the helping hands who made the kiddush possible, I welcomed everyone to take part in the kiddush. As Brian walked out of the sanctuary, once again the congregation sang to him and congratulated him. I mean, where else on Earth does this happen to a ten year old!?
I want to thank our JLC Director, Heather Brown for creating a pre-school that seamlessly bridges with the JLC program. I want to thank the Assistant Education Director, Aylah Winter and our Rabbinic Intern, Lily Lucey for making sure meaningful experiences are happening in JLC so that our youth feel invested in their religion and heritage. Morah Lily Lucey is in the constant pursuit of teaching JLC students how to pray, access Torah and our rituals so that our children have a place during adult services.
I want to name the teachers who directly deliver the Jewish curriculum, whether on Zoom, outdoors in the cold while sitting on the front lawn of the synagogue or in the traditional classroom. These teachers have extended themselves and their creativity in so many ways because they are dedicated to the Jewish education of our children. Their commitment to our children has been strong and I am grateful to them during this period of high anxiety and unpredictability due to COVID. Thank you to Morah Anat Lev Tov, Morah Anat Yaron, Morah Sharon, Morah Keith and Morah Yael. It is because of the commitment of the JLC teaching staff that Brian comes to JLC with a willingness to learn. There’s no whining or negotiations on Saturday mornings. Brian is dressed, ready and on time.
Also, a very big thank you to our Rabbi David Greenstein! The best parenting advice he gave me was to reflect on my own values as a Jewish person before trying to teach anything to Brian. He encouraged me to have a genuine interest in synagogue life, instead of just dropping Brian off to JLC. This taught me early on that synagogue life can be a bonding experience with my son, and I deserve the space to also make synagogue life a special experience for myself to renew my own spirit.
This kiddush would never have happened without the love and hard work of Aileen Grossberg and the Kiddush Committee. They made sure the food items served today would please our son. Thank you also to the team who helped assemble all the food together so that everyone felt safe during kiddush. Thank you to Nick Levitin, Miriam Haimes, Sharon Hurwich, Carol Katzman, Charlie Steindel, Zen Lucy, Linda Ariel, Ehud Klinger, and Carlos Alegre. I never really realized how many helping hands it takes to put lunch out for kiddush! The weekly helping hands that make these lunches possible, whether indoors OR outdoors, make our time in Shomrei feel like our second home.
Our son, Brian Samuel Singh, enjoys mixed martial arts and is learning to play traditional Jewish songs on the piano. He plays lots of video games because his goal is to become a professional gamer once he is old enough. He knows some fun facts about New Jersey and will be visiting Israel for the first time in April. Every week during our time in synagogue, please engage him in conversation, challenge his thoughts and don’t be afraid to reinforce good manners. After all, it takes a village, and you’re our village.