"I can open doors and take from the shelves
All the books I’ve longed to hold
I can ask all the questions,
The whys and the wheres
As the mysteries of life unfold
Like a link in a chain
From the past to the future
That joins me with the children yet to be,
I can now be a part
Of the ongoing stream,
That has always been a part of me" -- Yentl
I always wanted to be a yeshiva boy, in the style of Yentl of course. To study full-time, to argue, to immerse myself with like-minded folks. I still might, but first I have to pass this Torah, l'dor vador, from generation to generation, to my younger child.
If you want your child to study Torah, study Torah in front of them. Because if you only tell them to study, you will instead have children who will one day tell their own children to study Torah.
The Kotzker Rebbe
I used to have this quote hanging on my office door when I led the religious school at our synagogue. When my life was focused around the Jewish world, the mandate was quite easy. I was always studying Judaism, rituals, holidays, books, web sites, and Torah itself. My kids spent hours waiting for their mom to roll the Torah scrolls to the right parsha, practice her chanting, and prepare to give a drash or lead a Torah study.
Now I go work in a cubicle at an IT company and my life runs on its quarterly calendar, not the Jewish calendar. I'm now one of those parents I was trying so hard to influence when I was principal. Study with your kids. Make the time, It's so important. And study for yourself. Let them see you just flipping through a book where half the text is Hebrew. Easy for me to have said.
It's not so easy, to take the time and make room for Torah when you're not a professional Jew. My own study (and by extension, theirs) has suffered.
So I'm getting radical.
I will be Ellie's bat mitzvah tutor. (She will also study her parsha with the rabbi, but I'll work with her on leading the service, learning how to chant Torah, and all the other ins and outs of the big day.)
Ellie and I have both committed to studying the weekly parsha every week, even if we only takethree minutes to watch the relevant G-dcast video.(If you don't know G-dcast, get to know G-dcast. They have videos and apps for everything Jewish, including at least one for every Torah portion. It's brilliant. www.g-dcast.com)
Wish us luck.