Friday, June 14, 2013

Alex and Eema

Haven't posted in a while. Am planning on starting a new blog now that I'm no longer a rabbinical student. But wanted to share this article that appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Today's Israel!

Alex and Eema

         I was last in Israel a year ago and can’t wait to get back. One way to satisfy this yearning is my weekly Friday Shabbat Shalom conversation with my son.  Even more special than just hearing about Israel is hearing about his studies at the Conservative Yeshiva (CY) a place that I love.  For example, recently we talked about my preparation for an upcoming wedding and he offered to lend me his Talmud class notes on Masechet Kiddushin. How cool is that?
         This was fairly typical of Alex’s and my weekly conversations. Alex, 19, is currently spending his gap year on the Nativ College Leadership Program on the CY Track. The CY is one of my favorite places to learn. My first experience at the CY was in 2009 during a summer and fall semester as part of my rabbinical school training. I fell in love with the CY as a place where I could study ancient text, with both traditional and modern perspectives, with people of all ages.     
         Although Alex and I did not study at the CY at the same time we did get to have a Mother and Son learning experience. We would share his learning during our Shabbat calls so that it became our learning. He shared shiurim that I remember learning – I found my notes and we were able to compare! He would tell me things he learned in that week’s Community Discussions that he either had questions about or was excited to share or that he thought would be appropriate for use in one of my Sunday schools.
         Alex took one of my favorite classes, Liturgy, with R’Daniel Goldfarb. We often discussed what went on in class, reviewing the various aspects of different prayer, comparing traditional to liberal perspectives. These conversations helped me prepare my monthly service at my shul. A highlight was when Alex came home over winter break and taught a class on Israel at one of my schools. He used skills and knowledge learned at the CY and on Nativ to prepare for and teach the class. He could never have done that before this experience. It was fantastic! Through all this we’ve had discussions on philosophy and theology as Alex continues to develop his adult Jewish identity.
         As Jewish parents we are commanded to teach our children. We want to share our passions and interests with our children. As a rabbi I want to teach my children that which I love – Judaism. I am always trying to find ways to share this with my both my son Alex and his sister Jennie, who is studying to be a Jewish educator. To have Alex study at CY is a dream come true for his Eema. To have him love his time at the CY and want to return is a blessing. For Alex to want to share so much of it with his Eema is a gift that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Rabbah Arlene Berger
Education Director of the Chavurah at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue,
Washington, DC

Alex Berger,
UMD, Class of 2017