For Jewish educator Elisha Gechter, teaching is her true passion. She’s worked with young adults at CJP, managed programs like Eser and Parenting Through a Jewish Lens at Hebrew College, and is now working with Wexner Israel fellows studying at the Kennedy School. Elisha’s love for education led her to become involved in the Values in Action conversation series, a program of CJP and Cohen Hillel Academy.
We spoke to Elisha, who is a mom of a 2-year-old daughter, to learn more about the program and to find out what to expect from her November 16 session, Enthusiasm and Diligence in Newburyport.
What’s the benefit of the Values in Action conversations, and why should one attend?
Parenting is so exhausting, and we’re often running from A to B without really thinking about why we’re doing what we’re doing. [The session is] a really nice hour and a half to sit down and take a little time without your kids climbing all over your body and demanding your attention. It’s a time to think about how you’re doing this and if you’re doing the parenting piece in the way you really want to be doing it. That’s a big gift to yourself as a parent, to slow down and reflect.
I wish I had more time to read all the wonderful parenting advice books out there, but I just don’t. In a way, the class is like an in-person parenting book where you hear wisdom from so many different people, and also several Jewish sources.
Is this session for those who have already participated in Parenting Through a Jewish Lens? Or can anyone, including Jewish parents and interfaith families who haven’t done this, participate?
Anybody can walk in, whether you have never thought of these things before, or you grew up going to Jewish day school. We’ve had a spectrum in both of the classes I’ve taught.
What is your role in the Values in Action conversations?
I’m very well-versed in the Jewish leaning piece but I’m still very much a new learner when it comes to parenting, and that’s an attitude I take in my class. I’m not there to teach or tell anyone the way to do things [when it comes to parenting]. I’m there to facilitate a conversation.
What can one expect from the “Enthusiasm and Diligence conversation?
For this conversation we’ll sit in a circle; it’s very informal. I’ll pass out a paper for people to read together with short texts that are all in English. We'll explore the balance of being enthusiastic in our approach to life with being diligent enough to see things through. This balance applies to both ourselves as people and as parents and as well as something to help our kids navigate. We'll look at a Biblical text, a quote from Ethics of our Ancestors and several modern sources including an excerpt from a Jewish craft blog. The whole session is very conversational. You’ll have a chance to get to know the other people in the room and hear what they make of these ideas and what they might find helpful in their day to day parenting.
What’s the anticipated outcome from attending?
I want people to walk out feeling like, “I just learned something new about myself and about somebody else in the room, and I have a new way of thinking about something that I felt challenged about in parenting.”
I want people to come out feeling connected in some way—more connected to their role as a parent, more connected to somebody else in the room, more connected the community, and to Jewish wisdom.
CJP and Cohen Hillel Academy are hosting their next Values in Action Conversation, Enthusiasm and Diligence, on Sunday, November 16 at Congregation Ahavas Achim at 10 a.m.
Complimentary babysitting services provided at the synagogue.
To RSVP for this event and/or babysitting, email firstname.lastname@example.org.