These are difficult times for parents and grandparents as we navigate the world of chinuch. We must grapple with a complicated world. We face challenges with technology, social media, and a culture devoid of values. At the same time, we are trying to build character and instill middos and derech eretz within our children. We want to transmit passion for Judaism, inspire our children, and raise the next generation of Am Yisrael with love. With great gratitude to HKB”H I would like to share with you an excerpt from my brand new book ‘The Soul of Parenting,’ published by Mosaica Press. The chapters in my book provide practical parenting tips and delve through all these topics and more. It is my privilege to share with you a passage from my introduction.
Introduction to ‘The Soul of Parenting’
My earliest memories were filled with the knowledge that I came into this world as a child rising above the ashes. I was born after the fire of holocaust had devoured my family. Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles were all a mysterious void. I knew that I would never hold my zaidy’s hand, I would never hear the voice of my bubby as she sings me a lullaby. The warmth of their hugs and the feel of their kisses upon my head would remain a dream in my mind. My father’s parents, siblings, and their sweet babies vanished.
Miraculously, my mother survived the horrors of Bergen-Belsen along with her two brothers and parents, my Mama and Zaydah. Hashem, in His great compassion, allowed them to begin life anew. But they, too, lost their most precious loved ones.
These sacred souls who were slaughtered and gave their lives al kiddush Hashem became our family legacy. My zaydah’s mother for whom I was named perished in Auschwitz. As she walked to the gas chambers, she was seen holding her youngest grandchild in her arms, and was heard to cry out the Shema prayer with her very last breath. I knew this from the time that I could speak my name.
Taken, too, was the world my parents and grandparents had left behind. The majestic rabbinical dynasty of our family and the generations of ‘deyukno shel aviv,’ the image of a father and mother, which had been an integral part of everyday living, were cruelly snatched away.
They were so incredibly young. Shoved into cattle cars, gasping for air, trying to survive each miserable day, facing darkness unknown to humanity. Grief. Terror. Shock. Sorrow. All became haunting shadows lurking in their daily existence.
I wonder to myself, how did they go through indescribable suffering and pain, yet raise us with love? I never heard a moment of bitterness, anger or rage, at all that had been lost. How was it possible to bequeath dignity, unwavering faith, and endurable spirit? How did they hold onto our glorious past and allow me to taste that which I had never known?
This wonder and contemplation is the driving force behind my life work of reaching out to parents, grandparents, and children, as I impart timeless parenting and relationship insights that emit from my heart and soul.
I have learned the meaning of family. I have been witness to the power of a parent and grandparent to teach me, guide me, and encourage me. To be an inspired parent means that we are purposeful and passionate, and we persevere. To love means that we give our children and ourselves an opportunity to rise above the obstacles and choose to live a life of strength, resilience, and meaning.
I have discovered that we, too, can create and transmit a legacy for our own children, no matter where we have come from or the world that we live in. We can override the challenges and tests that family life brings, that a world of chaos thrusts upon us, and construct a home that endures with love, values, and a solid foundation for life.
My mission with this book is to share with you the light of wisdom that my parents and grandparents bequeathed to me, all based on the immutable teachings of the Torah. Life lessons that embolden me, my children, and grandchildren, until today.
In my travels and talks around the world, I have met countless children and young adults gripped with anxiety and a crumbling spirit. I’ve encountered parents, too, who have suffered immensely. Relationships at home have been strained with a pandemic, economic uncertainty, insecurity that sets in with news of terrorism and war, effects of technology and social media, and simply feeling that the universe has been turned upside down. Family life can be fraught with unexpected obstacles. Emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health have been compromised. There is a sense that unease and weakness have become internalized, a part of our very being.
It is easy to sigh, raise our hands up and say, “This seems impossible!”
How can we remain inspired? How do we parent from strength?