2010-05-07 / Columnists

Point of View

“The Rabbi’s Personal Column” Rabbi Allan Blaine Temple Beth-El, Rockaway Park

A problem arose a number of years ago at a prominent, private day school. It decided to eliminate any celebration of Mother’s Day because of the diversity of family structures which the school population then represented. While the thinking was not to hurt anyone, nevertheless, I believe it a mistake. Mother’s Day should be an occasion to honor all involved in mothering a child. Sometimes children come from single parent homes. In others grandparents are primary caregivers; at time aunts, or other members of the family. All women should be brought into the network of those who are being honored on Mother’s Day. A Jewish woman is a mother in Israel if not biologically then in every other sense. Henrietta Szold, founder of Hadassah, was never married and childless yet was a mother in Israel in the fullest and finest sense of that term.

Political correctness has its drawbacks. In this case not only poor public relations but poor educational techniques. The nuclear family dating back to Biblical times always consisted of a mother and a father. Civilization, culture and morality are dependent in many respects on the nuclear family. It is unfortunate that in many families today there are sometimes neither fathers nor mothers. A scholar on the subject David Blankenhorn has written a book called, “Fatherless In America” about the problem of the disappearing father. Indeed there are families where there is no mother present, such as in male same-sex relationships. Because of the high divorce rate today, there are families in which a child is confused by a plethora of mothers since the father has married numerous times, or a number of different fathers (check out the Hollywood scene!). How to relate to each and every one of them can become a complex, difficult and disturbing problem for the child. Family structures that deviate from the nuclear family norm call for sensitivity on the part of an educator. Easing “mother” out of society is not the answer. A little more creativity on the part of the teacher in preparing for Mother’s/Father’s Day should be an important part of the methodology of a school curriculum.

“Defining Deviancy Down” a term created by the late Senator Moynihan is never the answer, nor is seeking the lowest common denominator for purposes of political correctness. Life can never satisfy everyone because life is unfair. Our hearts go out especially to children who face difficult family situations, but promoting an artificial family structure or erasing Mother’s/Father’s Day from the calendar are not answers. Children are too smart for this. Why turn love for father, mother and family into a political brouhaha? Let Mother’s Day be a joyous occasion and if life situations mitigate against this, let’s all try to meet this confusing and complex challenge. In my Temple on Mother’s Day Sabbath, May 8th, every woman present gets a complimentary flower to take home. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Happy Mother’s Day.
SHAVUOT - The Torah Festival
Wednesday, May 19th – First Day of
Shavuot – Annual Honors Day for all Temple
volunteers, supporters of the Daily Minyan
(Minyanaires) and choir members. Holiday
Refreshments. Biblical Book of Ruth chanted
by Ruth Pagirsky.
Thursday, May 20th - Second day of
Shavuot - Yizkor Memorial Prayers
ADOPT A KADDISH: Induction of
25 Temple members who have consented to
adopt children who perished in the Holocaust
and keep their memories alive by reciting
Memorial Prayers on their Yahrzeit and at
Yizkor times.

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