Living Jewishly: Values Everyday

Jewish recycling

Here’s our recycling bin. Crayon leaf rubbing and team effort on D’Nealian English and block Hebrew.

My friend had a brain aneurysm yesterday. Out of nowhere. Her boy called a friend—one of those Go-To Friends who is always There in a blink (the same friend I called when my water broke last year…she rushed over to take my daughter overnight)—and they called 911. She had surgery, and it looks like she’ll be okay if she can make it through the next 3 weeks.

This was not a brush with death, it was more like a shove up right against it. I feel helpless here at home, drinking my milky hot tea, sitting at my Mac in my pjs. I also feel extremely lucky. And grateful.

My sick friend and my Go-To friend are the kind of women who help out in a crisis. They help out fast, and they help out for the long haul: they stick around anticipating the next need. They are beautiful illustrations of qualities that, for this entry, I’m labeling Jewish. Good qualities are not a Jewish monopoly—heavens, no—but this is a Jewish Parenting blog, and part of my job is to point out that good qualities can be called by their Jewish names. Using the Jewish labels with kids makes an impression, and once you start labeling, occasions to use the terminology seem to pop up more and more often. It brings Jewishness into daily life….Jewish Everyday.

Here are a few at work right this minute:

Hesed = Loving-kindness
Gemilut Hasidim = Righteous Deeds (going out of our way to help others)
Bikur Holim = Visiting the sick

and one not as well known:
Sayver Panim Yafot = Cheerfulness (always a plus when visiting a hospital)

Using the Hebrew for values (middot) and commandments (mitzvot) may not be a daily thing with you. If so, just pick one and start using it when appropriate. If your child gives the dog food or water, this is Tza’ar Ba’alay Hayim (kindness to animals). If your child recycles a bottle found on the sidewalk, this is Bal Tashheet (do not destroy needlessly). If your child does something to avoid or shorten a fight with a sibling, this is Shalom Bayit (peace in the home).

Here’s a link to a handy dandy list of “Jewish Values for Growing Outstanding Jewish Children.”   It lists the Mitzvah, Transliteration, Hebrew Term, and When You Can Refer to It.
I got permission from the author to host the chart on this site.
It’s worth printing out and taping up on the inside of a kitchen cupboard.  That’s where mine’s been for the last five years.

Call a mitzvah a mitzvah and it changes the world. At least, the world of your kid. To know that being Jewish is something Everyday…..feeding the dog, picking up trash, not chucking your brother down the stairs….makes a difference.

After this cup of tea, I’ll start putting some Hesed, Gemilut Hasidim, and Bikur Holim into action.

P.S. The underline beneath an “h” indicates the impossible to notate gutteral “ch” sound, as in Hallah bread. In Hebrew, it’s the letter het.

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