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  • Writer's pictureJodi Samuels

Words Of Wisdom That Impacted Me

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

I have been struggling with my Judaism. My questioning was related to our daughter Caila who has Down syndrome. It was not the kind of questioning that you may expect – “Why me?”, “How could G-d have done this to us?” That was not the problem. We accepted and embraced Caily immediately and understood with an unshakable certainty that G-d had sent us this challenge and blessing for a reason.

The problem arose when Caila was denied access to a Jewish education at a community Jewish day school. Our fight for inclusion unfortunately also allowed us to see the uglier side of our community. To be sure it was not all the community. But it was ugly enough to make me, a ba’al teshuva (someone who returned to Judaism from a completely secular background) question my choices. The wise keep telling me don’t judge Judaism by individual Jews. They are correct but this did not help my struggle for meaning and truth.

I went to Yom Kippur services and there were handouts of the UK Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sack’s latest book “Letters to the Next Generation”. At one point my mind was wondering from the prayers and I decided to reach this short book. I now highly recommend everyone spend 1 hour reading this book. So much of Jewish philosophy and practicality written in 10 simple letters to the Next Generation.

The first letter got my attention talking about legacy and the questions we ask ourselves “Who we are? How we live?” Jodi’s existential questions were asked in the 1st paragraph. I ask this question for me and my family but also for those around me. As the heads of an outreach organization Gavin and I literally have thousands come through our home each year. We also hear many people’s stories, issues, yearnings, frustrations and fears. I so often turn to Gavin and say “Why are we such a lost generation. What has gone wrong?” Rabbi Sacks answers this by saying the most important legacy we can give our kids is spiritual ideas. To quote “The best things any of us can give our children are values to live by, ideals to aspire to, an identity so that they know who they are, and a religious and moral heritage to guide them through the wilderness of time”

Moms when we look at the challenges of divorce, family discord, communities going a stray from our Torah values we know something is wrong. We also know that moms have the power to change the world. As a mom you can change your family, your community and the world. Reflect on the above and challenge yourself about the vales you teach your kids, the ideas that you aspire to, ask if your kids really know who they are… this simple guide can change our families, affect our homes, influence our communities and create positive change in this world. The legacy starts with you….

Originally published: September 28, 2012


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