Thursday, September 27, 2012

Teens and religion

I went to Temple for Yom Kippur.  This is remarkable because though I was raised in an extremely observant home, and though I think of myself as a cultural Jew who loves the ritual of the religion, I have steered away from temple services for many years. This morning I was hit with a feeling, a needing to go and observe and celebrate this very important holiday with other Jews.

I was surprised by how engaged and involved I felt, and how all the prayers and  songs I had learned in my youth were completely available to me even in my middle aged memory haze. I even found my self moved to tears as the congregation of 400 hundred sang in unison. I felt the memory of my parents, now both gone, my dear Aunt, who was like a mother, now gone, and now here I was, the elder generation. Very emotional.

I remember like it was yesterday when I was a teenager and my mom "made" us go to all the holiday services. One of my brother's just out and out refused to go, and I went with eyes rolled, dressed inappropriately in my long hippie indian dresses, dangly earrings,  and stringy hair hanging down my back. I'll show her, I thought. Then as a young adult, I would go out of duty, but still didn't feel the meaning. Then as a mother, I signed my daughter up for sunday school, and practiced the Jewish Holiday rituals in our home, but still Temple was not for me. And then today, I felt something I really had never felt before, I felt meaning in the words, in the songs, and in the community. At 60 years old, I didn't need to rebel anymore, I didn't go for my mother or my daughter, I just went for myself.

As teenagers, your kids are opening themselves up to questioning everything about themselves and about you. That is their job. Developing an identity, one of the major tasks of adolescence can feel alienating to parents. Your teens seem to be rejecting your very core values, but really they are now looking for the meaning for themselves. It's not really about you at all, it is their time to figure out what and how they want to practice a belief system. I love my mom, but I wish she hadn't pushed so hard and let me find my way. I probably would have found my way back a lot earlier. It had to be for me, for it to have meaning.

This reading was part of the service and it really moved me. I wanted to share it with you:

A Dialogue

We are your parents. We brought you to life.
We are your children. We fill you with life.

We are your parents. We show you where you're going.
We are your your children. We show you where you've been.

You should learn from our experience in life.
We must experience life in order to learn.

You should understand our desire to protect you.
You should understand our need to be independent.

You should not rebel against our ideas simply because they are established.
You should not restrain our ideas simply because they are new.

We are the heritage.We hold the link to the past.
We are the hope. We must look to the future.

Someday you'll be a parent; then you'll understand.
One day you were a child; then did you understand?

You are our children. Without you we would be forgotten.
You are our parents. Without you there would be little worth remembering.

One day we were children. Perhaps we have learned.
One day we'll be parents. Perhaps we can teach.

We are your parents.
We are your children.

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