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Talking to Kids about… Governor Spitzer’s Actions

This week, many parents will be asked by their children about the actions of Governor Eliot Spitzer. My colleague, Rabbi Elyse Frishman of Barnert Temple, in Franklin Lakes, NJ, sent this message to her congregants to help them with this complicated issue. Dear Friends, The news surrounding Governor Spitzer has been dismaying: the initial revelation, the details of his behavior, the phone transcripts and financial transfers, the speculation about his wife and daughters. Then we heard startling statistics about the rise of STD in our teens, while on talk shows, high-priced prostitutes justified and even glorified their work. “I used to be a social worker, but I just didn’t earn enough money. Now I can earn $10,000 in one night; I’ll be able to retire by the time I am thirty!” – the American dream? And another: after declaring that the Governor should have recognized his responsibility to his family, she was asked how she felt about the men she slept with; she said, “I make my choices, and they make theirs. It’s not my business.” I offer you two perspectives: a Jewish response, including five talking points to guide conversations with your children, who are deeply aware of what is going on and talking about it in school; and a concern for some of our families who have wrestled with infidelity. God teaches, “You shall be holy for I, God, am holy.” Holy behavior derives from how we treat one another: in marriage, in parenting, in regard to our parents; in business, in the workplace, in the market; towards the disadvantaged and the stranger. Our tradition doesn’t preach; it teaches how to live. Exodus and Deuteronomy detail legislation that is moral and ethical, and builds a just society. Several chapters in Leviticus condemn perverse sexual behavior, which is behavior that hurts or abuses another including persons once or twice removed from the act. Adultery is at the top of the list because it can destroy the family.Read on…

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