It is a commandment to pass traditions and values on to the next generation. Abby Stenn, as she became a Jewish adult in January, actually read the origin of this Jewish value.
Exodus chapter 12:25 “And when you enter the land that the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this rite?” 27 you shall say; “It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, because He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but saved our houses.”
We certainly do this through our Passover seders, but we have also expanded and extended this value and process. We don’t just bring holiness into our world or connect with the Divine. We are responsible to tell the stories and then pass the values and experiences onto the next generation so they can continue them.
In the last month or so, a valuable experience of intergenerational “work” has given me some powerful insights into this concept of passing. My son, Nathaniel, has become a huge football fan. Something clicked, and now he has become passionate about watching the games, looking up analysis and tuning into the sports radio shows that had been monopolized by me until recently. This means that over the last couple of weeks we have watched a lot of playoff football as he has been learning the game. We have witnessed passes and handoffs with new eyes. We have discussed how getting the ball from one player to another is not a done deal. There are dropped passes, batted passes, and bad throws. It takes incredible amounts of concentration, effort, skill and communication to release and receive the ball and hold onto it in the midst of the motion of the receiver and the contact from the defenders. Sometimes it is routine throw and catch. Other times it is an incredible highlight of fumbling and tumbling that is replayed 100 times for fans to marvel over. (if you are inclined, you can look up the Martavias Bryant catch in end zone during a recent Steelers and Bengals game)…
This is not a frivolous comparison. It is a powerful illustration with a challenge for us. We start with the conceptual value of passing the story and experience of the Exodus from generation to generation and then apply all of the dynamics of handoffs and passing in football. We get to ask about the ones who are doing the passing of our values. We consider who the ones are who do the receiving of our traditions. We get to reflect on the amount of interference and defense that gets in the way, disrupting the interaction and connection between the generations. When is this transmission an easy throw and catch, as opposed to when does it take incredible concentration, effort and perseverance?
These are more than just esoteric questions or theoretical considerations. The way we pass our values, history, rituals and spirituality from one generation to another, is a key to Jewish survival and our work of making the world a place of Shalom. We have a responsibility to not just do this in our own lives and families, but within our congregational community. We, as individuals and groups of TBS, have to participate in this transmission from one generation to the next. From Sisterhood to our Board of Trustees, from our Youth group participants to our pre Kindergarteners, all of us, whatever age or involvement, need to take some time to reflect
and act on how we pass and receive, and how we support others in this experience. How can we diminish the efforts of our culture, calendar, fear and inertia that break up the connection that help us reach our goals?
This is an image and ideal of communication, teamwork and effort, that as we tune in and take it on, strengthens our holy community and walk to build a world of Shalom.