–Alan Morinis, Everyday Holiness
Faith, or Emuna in Hebrew, most directly translates to faith in God. Our children often ask us about God. They may ask during difficult times, after a death or tragedy, or even during quiet times together. Many parents find it difficult to talk to their children about God and to answer their questions about God. Adults should be willing to acknowledge that they don’t always know the answers to these questions. If you struggle with their questions, try to understand your own feelings and thoughts about God before responding to theirs. You will then be better able to help your children to understand this difficult concept. Ask yourself, “What do I believe about God?” “What do I wonder about God?” Parents may choose not to share their personal beliefs; instead they might say, “Some people believe…” or “Jewish people have been asking these questions for years and years,” or “What do you think?”
To help children understand the concept of faith, you may want to explain to them that faith is to believe in something, even though we cannot see it. We believe in many things that we cannot see. We know that air exists because we can feel it in our lungs when we take a breath. We see our hair move in the wind and leaves blowing in the trees even though we can’t actually see the air that moves them. We cannot see love, but we feel it and believe in it. Some people believe what they are taught. Others want proof, so it is more difficult for them to have faith.
Ask your children what wonderful things they see and feel that may be
proof that God exists, even though we can’t see God. Do we find it in the
awesome beauty of nature, the delicate perfection of a newborn baby, or
in the profound power of love? We encounter God’s presence in moments of awe and wonder, in acts of good and evil, in love, and in everyday experiences.
Cultivate the practice of expressing gratitude, possibly by saying b’rachot (blessings), a simple act of daily acknowledgement of gratitude for the gifts you enjoy. Practice gratitude by saying:
● Blessings before enjoying a meal, snack, or drink
● Blessings for life’s moments joyful or sad
● Blessings for wonders of nature
● Blessings before a journey
● Blessings for learning
Parents can guide children in the practice of prayer and create an atmosphere in which children feel comfortable questioning and wondering about God, faith, life, and death.
Want to teach Jewish values to children? Mussar for Children: Jewish Values for Everyday Living Curriculum is the only Jewish values for children program of its kind geared specifically for young children. Jewish values for children
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