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Jewish Spiritual Parenting

 Jewish Spiritual Parenting

Wisdom, Activities, Rituals, and Prayers for Raising Children with Spiritual Balance and Emotional Wholeness

by Rabbi Paul Kipnes and Michelle November, MSSW
Published by Jewish Lights

While raising our three children, we learned a parenting secret: that bringing up a child transforms us and transforms our world. We discovered that being parents is a spiritual journey that begins in an act of love and continues through intentional actions. The Holy One bequeaths to us minimally formed creatures, all potential, morally neutral. As parents we transform those children into compassionate, loving human beings. We become partners with God.

from the Introduction

Parenting has never been easy – but in a culture that encourages more screen time than face time, how can you make sure that your children stay connected to what really matters in life?

In this guidebook for building a strong framework for a Jewish life, Rabbi Paul Kipnes and Michelle November, MSSW reveal the spiritual wisdom they have learned and the hard-won parenting techniques they developed that shaped their children as individuals and their family as a whole. Together, they explore spiritually nourishing approaches to help you foster essential Jewish values like gratitude, joy and honesty in your children. Kipnes and November also share timeless teachings and spirit-filled activities, rituals, and prayers that will help you cultivate strong Jewish values and cherished spiritual memories in your own family.

Written for…

In Jewish Spiritual Parenting we affirm all parents, recognizing that family structures are diverse. Each distinct parenting model brings both challenges and opportunities. We write for all who are raising children, whether on their own or in a marriage or partnership. These children might be your biological children, your partner’s children, or adopted. You may be biological or adoptive parents sharing responsibilities with stepparents. As single parents — raising a child yourself by choice, divorce, death, or some other reason — some of you are doing the parenting alone; others have the help of an ex- spouse or ex-partner, a significant other, or a grandparent. Some of you are grandparents, foster parents, or relatives of children for whom you are de facto parents. Whenever we speak about “parents” and “parenting,” we have each of you in mind.

Some families include one Jewish parent; others two or more. We acknowledge the reality that often the non-Jewish spouse is responsible for creating a Jewish spiritual home life. Some Jewish families are also multicultural or multiracial; some include a mix of parents and/or children who are gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, or questioning. We honor the many kinds of families in which children are being raised.

Accepting the fifth commandment as a guide, we honor our parents by nurturing their relationships with our children. Grandparents can be sources of wisdom and connectors l’dor vador (from generation to generation) to our Jewish past and familial lore. Other adults in our family and community can also serve as transmitters of values in addition to, or sometimes in place of, grandparents. When we write about grandparents, you might also think about these other older adults.

This book is also a resource for professionals who guide parents and their children toward healthy Jewish spirituality. Teachers, rabbis, youth professionals, educators, camp counselors — anyone involved with guiding parents and their children — can easily make use of the book’s Jewish wisdom, activities, rituals, and blessings.

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Praise for Jewish Spiritual Parenting

Dr. Wendy Mogul
“This book is a gem. The authors serve as your warm, wise and candid guides to a stunning range of Jewish wisdom for the here and now…. Learn and enjoy.”
Rabbi Rick Jacobs
“An invaluable guide for parents seeking to raise spiritually resilient and grounded children.”
Rabbi Rick Jacobs
president, Union for Reform Judaism
“There are many how-to books on the market, but few address how to nurture a soul. … A provocative, honest and practical guide for cultivating the soul. It is a gift to all of us who care about the spiritual imagination of children.”
Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
author of many award-winning children’s book, including God’s Paintbrush
“An invaluable resource for parents who are concerned not only with their children’s success, but with their soul.”
Rabbi David Wolpe
Max Webb Rabbi of Sinai Temple, Los Angeles; best-selling author, Teaching Your Children about God
Carla Naumburg
“Offer[s] a powerful blend of useful information, insightful questions and concrete practices that meets each of us where we are and takes us where we want to go.”
Carla Naumburg, PhD
“With rare wisdom, gentle love and humor, Paul Kipnes and Michelle November turn parenting into a spiritual adventure. This book is a blessing to a new generation of families. I will joyfully share it with new parents and grandparents.”
Rabbi Edward Feinstein
senior rabbi, Valley Beth Shalom, Encino; author, Tough Questions Jews Ask: A Young Adult’s Guide to Building a Jewish Life