In the face of uncertainty, Judaism stresses bitachon. From the same root as betach, which means “of course,” bitachon can be translated as trust, confidence […]
In the face of uncertainty, Judaism stresses bitachon. From the same root as betach, which means “of course,” bitachon can be translated as trust, confidence or certainty. It does not mean trust that everything will end happily. Bitachon suggests that however things do turn out, we have within us the core strength to adapt and thrive. Things may not go the way we want, but we will be OK. In a religious context, our Bitachon derives from the understanding that we are created in God’s image. If God could create this exquisite world out of tohu va’vohu, we can create order and meaning out of whatever chaos confronts us.
For parents of school children, this is a time rife with uncertainty. Children need human contact to grow and thrive. Isolation from peers is taking a harsh toll on our kids, and no one knows what the long term impact will be. Children also need the adults in their lives to be healthy. Each time a parent makes a decision to engage their child in a social activity in person, they are taking an uncertain risk with their own health. The moral dilemma, weighted with uncertainty on both sides, is onerous.
At CBJ, we are blessed with a beautiful and sizable outdoor space. Rates of transmission of the virus are significantly lower outdoors than in. Rates of transmission among children are also significantly lower than among adults. Thus, we are planning to offer a modified version of our Religious School program to a reduced number of students, meeting entirely outdoors. Many parents have let us know that their children want and need to meet in person, and I am grateful that the synagogue can offer this to them. For other families, the health risks weigh more heavily, so we are offering classes via Zoom for almost every grade level.
When opened registration for Religious School, I asked parents to approach it with bitachon – trust in themselves, trust in their child, and trust in our community. About twice as many students have registered for in person classes compared to Zoom class, and we cannot promise that we will be able to accommodate them all. But I have asked parents to trust that, together, we will figure out a way to make things work.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught that the most growth occurs in times of uncertainty. When our world is shaken, he explained, then we are pressed to question. From the foment comes new understanding. I do not know what this year will look like, but I do know that we will all grow and learn in ways that we never expected.