“Do you like the Jewish preschool for your kids?” I asked.
“I love it!” he told me.
“Are you going to send them to Jewish Day School?” I asked again.
“No,” he told me, “too Jewish.”
His two simple words hit me like a ton of bricks. “Too Jewish.” Too Jewish to do what, exactly?
I have encountered the same sentiment over and over again. What does it mean for someone or something to be TOO Jewish? Each day, our students are learning to draw inspiration from our past to build a better future. We are working hard to shape thoughtful, successful, kind people committed to making the world a better place. We are deepening our identity while reaching out to others to appreciate what makes their cultures and religions beautiful. What is “too” about any of that?
This campaign is meant to challenge all the assumptions and preconceived notions that we carry around about Jewish day school. But more than that, this campaign is meant to engage each of us individually about what it means to be Jewish today. It is a challenge to check our assumptions and see one another as complex, intelligent, real people who share something special in common.
This is an open invitation to come meet and talk to your neighbors, regardless of their age, politics, or religious affiliation. We are holding a community meeting at the Brown RISD Hillel on Thursday, November 19th, at 7:00pm. This is not a lecture or a panel discussion, but an open dialogue with space to talk about whatever is on your mind or in your heart. It is an opportunity to talk, listen, and learn from one another. We hope you will join us.
If you are unable to attend, please join the conversation in the comments below. The Jewish tradition encourages us to engage in dialogue and discussion, and we benefit from the inclusion of many voices and perspectives.