Teaching Our Children "Tikkun Olam"
By Erin McNew, Education Coordinator, Jewish Family Service
Bagels from Benny, by Aubrey Davis, is a touching story that demonstrates the importance and impact of expressing gratitude. When Benny’s Grandpa receives praise for making “the best bagels in town” he explains to Benny that he’s grateful to God for providing the means to make the bagels. Benny wants to thank God for Grandpa’s wonderful bagels, but how? The plan he devises is clever, creative, and caring with unintended results and a valuable lesson.
Benny decides to show his thanks by leaving a gift of bagels in the Ark at the synagogue. He chooses this gift for God because, "...You make them. But You never taste them, because Grandpa sells every last one.” Later Benny discovers that his offering has been eaten by an unintended recipient. At first he is dismayed by this unexpected outcome. How will God know of Benny’s gratitude if someone else is eating the bagels? Benny’s Grandpa reassures him, though, that by making the world a little better, he is indeed thanking God. Benny learns that an expression of gratitude can make the world a better place, and has impacts that reach beyond the original deed.
Teaching your child the value of acting compassionately can be a lasting gift to God, and to the world. When you read this PJ Library book to your child, you reinforce the basic Jewish tenet Tikkun Olam. Literally, Tikkun Olam means “repairing the world.” It is the Jewish mandate to do whatever possible to make the world a better place for everyone. Even young children can understand the concept of making the world a better place to live, and can contribute to this work.
Children learn their responsibilities to the world in their homes. After reading Bagels from Benny, find opportunities to talk with your child about the ways you help the world. Chances are, you are already contributing time and/or money to help others. Explain why you donate to specific causes, and share your gratitude for the contributions that others, before you, have made. When your child sees or hears about you making a difference, you provide him with a positive role model for this value.
Tikkun Olam is an ethic of action. With Bagels from Benny as inspiration, help your child brainstorm ways she can express gratitude and be of service to others. There are many ways to help others, and no helpful act is too small. When your child retrieves a neighbor’s recycling bin from the curb, bakes muffins for a friend, or donates outgrown toys to a younger relative, be sure to point out the impact of her helpful action. Benny’s action not only helped someone in need, it resulted in that person vowing to help others. In performing good deeds, your child will learn compassion, responsibility, and the value of her contributions. And, as Benny’s Grandpa says, “what better thanks could God have?”
What can your family do to make the world a brighter place?
After reading Bagels From Benny with your child, your family may enjoy creating special “birthday cake packs” for families who visit Jewish Family Service Food Pantry. You’ll need the following:
Have your child decorate one or more gift bags with crayons, markers, or whatever else they enjoy using for creative work. Write “Happy Birthday” on the bags. In each bag, place one cake mix, one frosting, and a package of candles. Visitors to the food pantry will be able to use the birthday cake pack when they’re celebrating family members’ birthdays.
Feel free to assemble and donate one birthday cake pack, a few, or many. All donations are appreciated!
Donations can be dropped off at the Jewish Family Service Food Pantry donation barrel located just inside the Mayerson JCC main entrance, across from the membership office.
PJ Library Upcoming Events:
Sunday, November 7
Global Day of Jewish Learning, featuring PJ Library Storytimes:
10:00 am at Rockdale Temple
10:30 am at the Mayerson JCC
Friday, Nov. 12
"Say Hello, Lily" For kids & adults!
12:30pm at the Mayerson JCC
Read more about these upcoming events!
Are you raising Jewish Children,
but you're not Jewish?
Don't do it alone! The Mothers Circle can help!
The Mothers Circle is a FREE education and support program for women of other religious backgrounds who are raising Jewish children. The program is now available in Cincinnati.
For more information, contact Linda Kean at 513-766-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting to know our PJ Families
The Pinsky Family
Erin and Ben Pinsky met at Indiana Univeristy in 2000. Both being from Cincinnati, most people assummed that they already knew each other. Even though they had attended the same bar mitzvahs growing up, they never actually met before college. Once finally introduced, they were inseperable. Life has taken them many places - they spent 3 years in Chicago and then 2 more in North Carolina - but they knew someday they would head back to their home town. About two years ago they moved back to Cincinnati and welcomed a baby boy name Eli, now 18 months old. Read more
Staff of PJ Library Initiative:
Linda Kean, MA, CFLE (Certified Family Life Educator), Director of Family Life Education, Jewish Family Service
Erin McNew, MSW, LSW, Education Coordinator, Jewish Family Service (513-766-3328, email@example.com)
Elizabeth Woosley, Community Educator, Mayerson JCC (513-985-1539, firstname.lastname@example.org)