Some Real Family Values
Why should I feign interest in my 9-year-old's latest obsession, a Lego "Star Wars" computer game, just as I had in his "Backyard Baseball" meshugash, where I got to know fictional kids and their batting averages and pet peeves?
Because if I want him to talk to me -- or listen to me -- about the important stuff, I have to understand his world.
"If you don't get their rock 'n' roll, you won't be able to talk to them about sex and drugs," said Dr. Ian Russ, a developmental psychologist.
Russ's offered this advice as a sort of preview to his turn as scholar-in-residence at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute's intergenerational family weekend, which runs Nov. 18-20 and is cosponsored by The Jewish Journal.
In two sessions on Shabbat, Russ will talk about how to build a family relationship that allows for the transfer of values from parent to child. His talk, and sessions by five other experts in different fields, will focus on ethics and values.
The weekend will open with a session about building home rituals to foster an atmosphere of ethical spirituality. It's led by Rabbi Laura Geller of Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills.
In another session, Bruce Powell, headmaster of the New Jewish Community High School, will explore his "Jewish Values Matrix," looking at how taking a secular value -- say, free speech -- and putting it into a Jewish context (say, obligations of responsible speech) -- can offer a fresh spin for parents who want to open candid discussions with kids.
Rabbi Steven Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple will share insights that went into his book, "More Money Than God: Living a Rich Life without Losing Your Soul" (Bonus, 2004).
"I will talk with parents about the challenge of raising menschy children when the children are surrounded by materialism and competition," Leder said. "I want to help parents be thoughtful about choreographing their children's early experiences with money, tzedakah and business ethics."
Also on the roster is Dr. Ron Reissberg, chair of the Jewish studies department at the University of Judaism, who will explore the ethics of social justice. After Shabbat, Merill Lynch financial adviser Dan Fienberg will share his best practices for saving, budgeting and investing to pay for education.
Organizers said the weekend also will include Shabbat observance, childcare for young children and leisure-time activities including a Saturday night campfire, Sunday morning horseback riding, rock climbing, hiking and art projects.
To register or for more information, call The Brandeis-Bardin Institute at (805) 582-4450 or visit www.thebbi.org. -- Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor
'Israel Airlift' Comes Through
A Jewish community call for donations of winter clothing has brought forth about 10,000 pounds of personal items to be airlifted soon to settlers displaced in August by Israel's Gaza pullout.
"The outpouring has been immense," said community activist Daryl Temkin, who after Rosh Hashanah launched the three-week "Israeli Airlift" campaign. Donors dropped off their contributions at sites in Beverlywood, Calabasas and North Hollywood.
Throughout October, Temkin and others transported five large moving vans full of donated sweaters, raincoats, winter coats, blankets, shoes, toddler toys and school supplies to a warehouse in Vernon. Clothing has been arriving from around the world. On the East Coast, donation efforts have been spearheaded by New York City's Orthodox-focused National Council of Young Israel.
On Nov. 6, all donated items will be moved to a Beverly-La Brea location where Shalhevet and YULA High School students and other volunteers will package everything for shipment to Israel. El Al airlines has offered a special cargo rate of $1.50 per pound. -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer