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Jewish Inspiration

Jewish Inspiration February 26, 2017

The “Good Kid” Myth

I’ve often heard kids described as “good kids,” and have been guilty of doing such describing myself. More and more, it bothers me. 

What is a “good kid”? In general, it means one who follows rules, studies well, has good sleep hygiene, stays away from drugs and alcohol. In Orthodoxy, it also means keeps the mitzvot, dresses modestly (girls) or with cultural norms, goes to shul regularly (boys). In both worlds it means to follow the path set forth for you by your parents without making trouble. 

The implication is clear. Kids who do not do the above are not good kids. Language matters, mostly because it reveals deep-held, often cluelessly judgmental beliefs – in our case about children. 

Here’s the truth. All kids are good kids. How do I know? Because the fact is that children who are emotionally healthy want to please. They want to succeed and do well. They want to feel good about themselves and they crave the pleasure and praise of those they love. 

So if they are not succeeding, if they can’t seem to follow rules or stay out of trouble, here’s the fact: there’s a reason. You may not know the reason. The child himself may not know the reason. The reason may be hidden and invisible. But I promise you it is there. 

No child chooses failure on purpose. No child chooses the wrath and disdain of those he loves or the ostracism of peers. No child, barring emotional turmoil, neurological differences, and mental illness, acts “bad.”

One might even argue that these kids are gooder than good, as they struggle their way through a world biased toward the “good kids.” They keep trying! They keep getting up in the morning! Their tenacity, their grit is astonishing! What terrifyingly good kids!

I invite you then, the next time you see a “bad kid,” to think to yourself: there goes a hero. A warrior. A war veteran. Respect. 

And what shall we now name the “good kids”? Who knows? Why must we name them at all? Do I know where they’ve journeyed, what dragons they have slayed or not? If I do, great. Describe the behavior. She does well in school. He’s polite and well-mannered. 

Leave the moral judgments to God. He’s much kinder than people

Jewish Inspiration, Uncategorized November 9, 2016

Election Aftermath

So Donald Trump is president and half of America is mourning. And plenty are elated. My Facebook feed, mostly non-Orthodox Jews, is dominated by mourning. People lamenting the loss of normalcy, of values, of shattering the glass ceiling once and for all. People describing the emotions like losing a loved one. 

Jewish Inspiration October 19, 2016

Be Happy

There’s a certain anxiety when you haven’t blogged in awhile, like your next post better have been worth the wait. I recently switched from Blogger to WordPress and I’m still adjusting to this new relationship, but today I downloaded the WordPress app on my phone, and it’s waaay more lovable than the actual site. So here I am blogging on my phone, deciding to just be casual and conversational and not let the blogger bogeyman get me down. 

Jewish Inspiration July 3, 2016

For Elie Wiesel

You were the grandparent I couldn’t have, the one who told the Story.
You were tireless in your staggering work.
You relived the horrors, so others could know.
You looked beyond your own to make sure it didn’t happen to others.
You helped me know what my own had been through.