Kids have enough homework, so let’s make Torah study fun! How do we do that?
- First, you need the right books. There are plenty of sites where you can buy Jewish books, but Amazon works. We recommend anything by the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) or the Robert Alter translations of the Torah or the entire Bible. Do not use Christian copies of the Bible or study guides, as they don’t tell the Jewish perspective.
- Second, you need the time. Fifteen minutes is enough. Schedule it on your calendar for the same day every week. If it makes its way to the calendar, then it’s meaningful, just like soccer practice, ballet, or any other activity.
- Lastly, it helps to have some kind of study sheets. Reform, Conservative and Orthodox websites are filled with dvrei torah (sermons/teachings) you can pull from. My Jewish Learning has a portal entirely of these.
Remember, you’re not giving a lecture or teaching your family what to think. You are working together to develop the skill, the art, the experience, of engaging with Jewish texts. You’re helping your family become more comfortable with Judaism. That is worth more than any Bible lesson!
So where do you go from here? Any one of these works.
- Start with your study sheet. You can read the study sheet together, then go on a treasure hunt to find the verses mentioned.
- Start with the commentaries. Find a commentary in the weekly torah portion, then try to use the rest of the Torah to uncover what that commentary is about.
- Focus on a few verses that interest you. You don’t have to read the entire thing. Just find something you feel you and/or your family would like.
- Talk, talk, talk. It’s not about the reading of Torah or getting through the whole Bible in a year. It’s about you and your family discussing Judaism.
- Make a questions list. As you go through different torah portions/verses and you can’t make sense of them, make a list. Discuss them with your mentor via email. Bring your questions to class. Ask other families! Questions are often more important than answers.