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Youth are key to growth, longevity

Amy Snelson
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My previous column may have left you with the impression that mothers, Jewish and otherwise, like to brag about their children. Absolutely! At Temple Bat Yam we are especially proud of our young, whose contributions are key to the temple’s growth and longevity. Children have always been central to the Temple’s core being.

Urban legend has it that the temple’s own existence is a direct result of families wishing to raise their children with Jewish values. The backbone of our youth involvement is the Shabbat School. Here again I assert bragging rights. The teachers are utterly dedicated and passionate – like Jewish mothers. Little wonder since in Hebrew the word for parent, “ horeh” comes from the same root as the word for teacher, “moreh.” The rabbi is no exception. In addition to being a first-rate scholar he is quite a gifted storyteller. I wish you could have been at the Tot Shabbat Service during Chanukah when he got right down on the floor, making poses to imitate challah and menorahs.

This stands in stark contrast to my own experiences. Back where I come from, those who went to Shabbat school or service complained about being forced to go. Rabbis rarely interacted with the young. But what I am most in awe of is the young people’s level of commitment to community service, including fundraising for the needy, to collecting clothing for the poor.



Temple Bat Yam’s Youth Program includes so much more than just Shabbat school. As a member of the Adventure Rabbi Program, Rabbi Evon has greatly improved and expanded our young people’s involvement by including campouts and sleepovers. These are great mixers allowing our youth opportunities to appreciate nature while interacting with people from other temples. These get-togethers have become so popular that talk has begun about expanding the temple to accommodate even more young people.

The last thing I heard was that there was yet another youth oriented event – the “Shabbat Shira” service being held Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. It’s like a Jewish hootenanny – an entire evening devoted to music. The best part of the night’s entertainment is us. No fee is required, just youthful energy.



Though entirely different from my own experience, I’m not surprised by Temple Bat Yam’s welcoming attitude toward the young. It is just part and parcel of what I experience each week: the temple’s overall inclusive philosophy and strong family orientation. Old or new, I extend an invitation to all young-at-heart to come out Feb. 13 at our New Members Service and together we will sing and celebrate our Judaism.

I conclude with the following conversation that I never heard at the Temple’s Shabbat School:

Hebrew teacher: “That will be all for now. I have a headache.”

Student: “Oh I know about that. Moses had a headache too.”

Hebrew teacher: “Moses had a headache? Where did you hear this?”

Student: “Grandpa told me. He said God gave Moses two tablets.

Amy Snelson is a Temple Bat Yam Congregant and a South Lake Tahoe Resident. She can be reached at amyjosnelson@gmail.com.


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