Friday, January 31, 2014

Teaching sad things to our kids

I often comment on things I read on Tablet magazine, since it's an interesting Jewish online magazine.  I recently read this article about teaching your daughter the torah and the Talmud.  While I'm definitely not at the point where EG and I can have story time with the parasha, I thought it was interesting that in the comments someone suggested that the stories mentioned in the book (anything about Noah or about Egypt) weren't appropriate for a five year old.

The commenter said, and I quote,

"Placing a baby in a basket and floating it down a river is child endangerment and potentially a homicide.

Why read that to 5 year old?."

The poster was a member of the American Federation of Teachers.  That is what made me worried the most.  I'm not saying that the story of Moses floating down the river doesn't have some bad connotations.  The reasons why his mom let him float down the river, rather than drowning him, the fact that Jews are enslaved, the fact that husbands and wives are seperated, etc.  All of these pieces to the story are terrible pieces.  But child endangerment, and a potential homicide as the take-aways?  I'm not even sure that I ever read that into the story at all.

What does this say about our teachers?  Do you not teach a five year old about slavery? What about the holocaust or the movement of the Indians in America?  I don't have an honest answer, but I'm disturbed that a teacher could read so beyond the story of Moses in a basket to think that it teaches about child endangerment and a potential homicide.

It got me thinking about what we teach out kids, and how there are so many stories I learned as a child that I had to 're-learn' as an adult.  Take the story of Purim.  Seems all well and good, Jews don't die, yeah!  But as an adult you learn about how we didn't 'not die', but we killed 75,000 people.  We don't go into that as we don our costumes, shake our fists and swing our groggers every year.

So when do we share the full story?  How do we take the sad things that have happened in life and not gloss over them?  When do we expect our kids to understand that when Abraham tied Issac down to the stone he was intending to kill him?

I've searched high and low for 'Jewish' bible books for my littlest.  A board book filled with bible stories that aren't leaning to far towards the Christian side of the spectrum.  But perhaps, rather than worry about that, I should be figuring out how to broach the touch subjects.

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