Miss Out on Your Jewish Childhood?

Queen Esther
Queen Esther

Some of us missed out on a Jewish childhood. We were raised in another tradition, or no tradition at all.

Some of us missed out on parts of it, or something happened that messed everything up.

Let me tell you a little secret: it’s never too late to have a Jewish childhood.

  • Want to have a bar or bat mitzvah? Talk to your rabbi about studying for an adult bar mitzvah. Yes, you can have a party, too.
  • Depressed that you never got to play dreidel? Invite people over for a night of Chanukah games and latkes!
  • Mad that you didn’t get to go to Hebrew school? It isn’t too late to take Hebrew classes.
  • Sad that you’ll never ask the Four Questions at the seder table? Host a seder with adults, and schedule yourself to chant them – you can do it!
  • Longing to dress up like Queen Esther on Purim? Or like a firefighter? Why not?
  • Yearning for a bubbe or a zayde? Talk to your rabbi about adopting a “grandparent.” Someone needs you as much as you need them.
  • Envious of youth trips to Israel? Ask your rabbi to help you find an affordable program open to your age group.
  • Wish that someone had taught you how to keep a kosher household, lay tefillin, make matza brei? Ask a friend or take a class!

You are the person in charge of your Jewish experience. If there’s something you want to learn, there’s someone teaching it. If there’s something you want to do, there’s a way. Will it be easy? No, but it might not have been easy as a child, either (ask any bat mitzvah if that Torah portion came easily!)

It isn’t too late. You might be just in time!

Image: AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Joe King

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at http://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

7 thoughts on “Miss Out on Your Jewish Childhood?”

  1. I’m so happy to see this post! So many people missed out and don’t realize they can start NOW. A man who converted less than a year ago went to the Purimshpiel & carnival and reported back, “Rabbi Adar told me to have a Jewish childhood so I went over and had a snow cone!”

    This will be his first seder as a Jew so he’ll be the youngest *Jew* at the table. He gets to recite the 4 questions.

    Happiness is taking charge of your life and giving yourself the things you want.

    1. Thanks, Dawn! I think that those “making up for lost time” experiences can be wonderful. Best of all, once we’ve done it ourselves, then we can encourage others. It is never, ever too late as long as we are alive and willing to invest ourselves.

  2. You wrote this 2 years ago but it’s applicable to my life today. I did have a Jewish childhood, somewhat, and now I’m going to figure out how much of a Jew I’m going to be in my 50s.

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