Between work, cleaning, packing lunches, exercising, volunteering and just plain life (paying bills, taking the car in to the shop, etc.) there is just so little time to enjoy what is truly most important: Shlomo, Netanya, Devarya and Shai.
Thanks to the Greater Baltimore Jewish Community Center.
On the morning of Dec. 25, the Weinberg Park Heights JCC hosted Jewish Volunteer Connection’s Community Mitzvah Day. For a couple of hours, my oldest son and I made cards for soldiers, colored placemats for Meals and Wheels, decorated a mural for Art With a Heart, cut snowflakes out of construction paper for the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings, and even poured rice into balloons to make stress balls. We did more than a mitzvah that morning — we spent quality time together. I only took out my phone to take pictures of Shlomo and his work.
Later in the afternoon, I took my 2-year-old and the baby to the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC’s Peace Love family-fun event. Wow! There were all sorts of things to do, from moon bounces and balloon characters to face-painting and necklace-making. We planned only to stay an hour, but the two hours we spent there passed by like five minutes.
I was relaxed. My children were enthralled.
Devarya came home with a smiley-face tattoo on one cheek and a psychedelic painted flower on the other.
I know there were many other events going on around town, too, like a bookstore liquidation sale at Congregation Shomrei Emunah and the Chinese on Christmas celebration at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, including the JT’s own food columnist, Ilene Spector.
But I went to the JCC. It is also only at the JCC that in the course of a few hours I can see my neighbors and my colleagues, meet new parents (potential friends) and encounter grandparents and great-grandparents. The JCC creates a neighborhood of commonality for all Jews.
And it’s just so much fun!
Only at our JCCs can you find everything from a parenting center to a pottery studio, from an open gym to personal training. I have a soft spot for Eden Cafe’s vanilla frozen yogurt.
I hope that my children will learn from me the importance of faith. I am confident my children will recognize the power of hard work and being diligent and determined. I pray my daughters will watch me and know that they can be whatever they want to be — and that what they want to be is for them to decide.
However, I know that it will take many years before my children know these were values I tried to instill in them. What I know they will think about, and need to think about whenever they are challenged, are the moments we smiled together, laughed together, joked together and had plain old fun.
I’m not sure I’d ever spend the afternoon making glitter shakers if you didn’t provide the platform.
I would certainly never allow the kids to jump up and down on my furniture. It is better they should do that on an inflatable, with other children like — and not so like — themselves, at our community center … and with me.
Maayan Jaffe is JT managing editor firstname.lastname@example.org