Parents in the News

As I read the news this week, story after story brought me back to a single word – PARENT.  It’s a loaded word.  Whether you think about your relationships with your own parents or – if you have kids – your relationship with your kids, the parent-child relationship is complicated.
So, here are four stories that caused me to think about my role as a parent.
The Stanford Rape Case.  It started with the incredible, anonymous statement by the woman who was raped by Brock Turner.  I will be sending my oldest daughter to college this fall and SHE is the one who shared it with me on Facebook.  However, it was the rapist’s father’s letter to the court that made me irate.  Instead of acknowledging what his son had done to another human being and the impact it had on her life, he focused on how his son’s life had been affected by this event. While I understand the instinct to protect a child, what was he teaching his son?
Mom Saves Daughter in Store.  Then I saw a harrowing surveillance video from a dollar store in Florida.  A woman was shopping with her 13-year-old daughter when a man tried to literally drag the girl out of the store.  The mother held on to her daughter with all her might and the man gave up.  He ran out of the store and right into an off-duty sheriff, who promptly arrested him. Sometimes, parents must provide physical protection for their children.
Another Terrorist Attack in Israel.  Then my Facebook feed lit up with relieved posts from parents whose children are currently in Israel declaring that their children were safe.  Four innocent Israelis, of course, were NOT safe.  They were shot and killed by Palestinian terrorists simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. For those parents of children overseas, the angst was the same as if they were watching from across the street.
Hillary Clinton – Presumed Major-Party Nominee for President.   Without getting into a conversation about Hillary Clinton’s positions or character, she accomplished something never done before.  She has become the first woman to clinch the presidential nomination of a major political party in this country.  We all tell our kids that they can be anything they want to be.  However, at some point, they grow up enough to figure out that it might not be true.  Her nomination breaks down another barrier.  Now, when parents speak those words to African-American children and to daughters, they are finally true.
The news this week reminds us that parents have an obligation to protect their children.  Sometimes, parents are able to do that.  Sadly, there are times when parents cannot.  Parents have an obligation to teach children to take responsibility for their actions and accept the consequences of their actions.  Sadly, there are times when parents fail to teach this vital lesson and children think that the rules do not apply to them – even as adults.  Parenthood has no geographical boundaries.  Parents in the US with children in Israel still feel like they are watching their children on the playground and can catch them before they fall.  Lastly, parents have an obligation to make the world a better place for their children.  The next generation should not be held back by the biases of this generation.
This week’s Torah portion is called “Bemidbar,” which in Hebrew means “in the wilderness.”  The Children of Israel were going off into unknown territory.  No matter that God was with them.  No matter that Moses was their leader.  It was scary, it was dangerous and the Children of Israel made lots of mistakes along the way.  I think that parents today – who send their children out into the world — understand exactly how God and Moses must have felt.



About Rabbi Avi Friedman

I am the rabbi of Congregation Ohr Shalom - SJCC, a progressive Conservative and traditional congregation. I am also husband to Jodi as well as father to Gabi, Jonah, Jessica and Ilana. I have been a part of the Summit community since 2005.
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