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IÂ applaudedÂ in 2013 when Rabbi Rick Jacobs announced the Reform movementâ€™s audacious hospitality initiative, and again in 2015 when my colleague April Baskin was appointed to lead it. But the recent release of theÂ Audacious Hospitality ToolkitÂ surfaces a deep question: just how audacious will our hospitality to interfaith families be?
The Toolkit is an excellent resource. I recommend it to every congregation, not just Reform. It offers guiding principles and concrete steps synagogues can take to self-evaluate, develop and implement efforts to welcome diverse populations. It builds on pioneering work by the Reform movementâ€™s own Outreach Department, Big Tent Judaism andÂ InterfaithFamily.
But missing from the Toolkit is discussion or guidance about the difficult issues that I believe must be addressed for interfaith families to engage in Jewish life and community.
In 2000 I wrote an op-ed,Â Redefine Jewish Peoplehood, forÂ Reform JudaismÂ magazine, and a longerÂ We Need a Religious Movement that is Totally Inclusive of Intermarried Jewish FamiliesÂ for InterfaithFamily. I said that we need to include â€“ indeed, embrace â€“ not only Jews but also their partners from different faith traditions, and their children, as â€śin,â€ť as part of â€śus,â€ť as included in the Jewish people more broadly defined as the Jewish community. Not as â€śout,â€ť â€śother,â€ť not allowed to participate and engage fully in Jewish life. Instead of focusing on identity, on whether a person â€śisâ€ť Jewish, I said we needed to focus on engagement, on whether a person wants to â€śdoâ€ť Jewish.
Itâ€™s not surprising that in the seventeen years since there has been some but not enough change. This kind of fundamental shift is hard, and generates exactly the issues that I believe Jews and their communities need to address.
One issue is the preference Jews express for their children marrying other Jews. A friend who has a lesbian daughter in a long-term relationship told me last week that he hated it when well-intentioned people said to him, â€śitâ€™s wonderful that your daughter has a partner â€“ but wouldnâ€™t you prefer that she were straight?â€ť No, he wouldnâ€™t, thank you.
The same kind of preferential thinking applies to interfaith couples, and Iâ€™ve been guilty of it myself; once when a friend wanted to introduce my son to a young woman, I said â€śis she Jewishâ€ť? right in front of my daughterâ€™s husband who is not Jewish himself. (Fortunately, it gave me a chance to tell him I loved him just as he was.) Jewish leaders and their communities need to address the attitudes that Jews have about partners from different faith traditions, and that consider relationships with them to be â€śsub-optimal.â€ť
Another issue is the attitude that partners from different faith traditions are welcome but with limitations, that their patrilineal children arenâ€™t â€śreallyâ€ť Jewish or Jewish enough, or that conversion or some new special status like â€śger toshavâ€ť is the answer to inclusion and recognition. Partners from different faith traditions want to be welcomed as they are, without ulterior motives that they convert, and they donâ€™t want their childrenâ€™s status questioned. Creating new categories of who is more â€śinâ€ť or â€śoutâ€ť and which status confers more or less benefits, is not inclusive. Jewish leaders and their communities need to examine and explicitly address their policies â€“ and assert the Jewishness of patrilineals in dialogue with other movements.
A third issue is ritual participation policies, like the parent from a different faith tradition not being allowed to pass the Torah or join in an aliyah at the bar or bat mitzvah of the child they have raised with Judaism. Those parents could say the Torah blessing with full integrity because their family is part of the â€śusâ€ť to whom the Torah was given. They want to feel united with their family and want their child to see them participate and be honored fully. Maintaining the boundary that only a Jew can have anÂ aliyahÂ excludes them. Jewish leaders and their communities need to examine and articulate their policies, and whether they will allow anyone who wants to participate fully to do so.
After theÂ Cohen Centerâ€™s recent researchÂ showed strong association between officiation and interfaith couples raising their children as Jews and joining synagogues, it is no longer tenable for liberal rabbis not to officiate on the grounds that intermarriage is not good for Jewish continuity. Jewish leaders should ensure that that at least some of their synagogueâ€™s clergy officiate. It is time for the Reform rabbinate to change the resolution still on the CCARâ€™s books that disapproves of officiation. Statements of position set a tone that matters, and bold leadership helps people adapt their attitudes to address new realities. Thatâ€™s why Hebrew Union College, the Reform seminary, should follow the Reconstructionistsâ€™ lead by admitting and ordaining intermarried rabbinic students. The growth and vitality of liberal synagogues depends on engaging more interfaith families. What better role model for them could there be than an intermarried rabbi?
Finally, the real frontier of audacious hospitality is how Jewish communities will respond to couples who think they may or say they want to â€śdo both.â€ť What appears to be a growing population wants to educate their children about both religious traditions in the home, without merging them together. When they knock on Jewish doors â€“ when couples ask rabbis to co-officiate at their weddings, or parents ask synagogue religious schools to accept children who are receiving formal education in another religion â€“ they mostly get â€śnoâ€ť for an answer. While more rabbis appear to be officiating for interfaith couples, most wonâ€™t co-officiate, saying they want a commitment to a Jewish home and family. But participating in those weddings holds the door open to later Jewish commitment for couples who havenâ€™t decided yet, while refusing to risks shutting that door. Similarly, while we donâ€™t have to recommend or favor raising children as â€śboth,â€ť providing Jewish education to them if they seek it opens doors to later engagement.
The more confident we are that Jewish traditions are so compelling that people will gravitate to them once exposed, the more we will openly discuss these issues, dismantle barriers, and articulate and implement a totally inclusive â€“ yes, a truly audacious â€“ hospitality. People who say Jewish communities are already welcoming enough, and donâ€™t need to talk about or do anything specific for interfaith families, are out of touch; Jewish communities can do a lot to attract and engage interfaith families with explicit statements, invitations, and programs designed for them, especially meet-ups and discussion groups where new couples can talk out how to have religious traditions in their lives.
As summer approaches, many congregational rabbis are thinking about their High Holiday sermons. The Reform movement will gather again in December at its biennial. Will Jewish leaders seize these occasions to forthrightly address just how audacious their hospitality to interfaith families needs to be?
In Marc Maronâ€™s recent podcast â€śWTF,â€ť he interviews Jason Segel (of How I Met Your Mother fame) at length and touches on his interfaith upbringing early on. (The interview itself begins at 14 minutes in, and the conversation turns to religion at about 15 Â˝ minutes.)
Segelâ€™s father is Christian and his mother is Jewish, and he tells Maron, â€śNeither of them are religious. So they made this decision that they were going to let me decide, which is like the dumbest thing you can do for a kid. Because you donâ€™t really care [at that age].â€ť
He goes on to say, â€śAt Christian school youâ€™re the JewishÂ kid and at HebrewÂ school youâ€™re the ChristianÂ kid. I think thatâ€™s the nature of groups.â€ť
Itâ€™s not surprising that Haaretz picked up on the message that being a â€śhalf-Jewâ€ť (their words, not oursâ€”we do not promote this term) equaled â€śoutsiderâ€ť for Segel. Being brought up with two religions does not work for everyone, and perhaps having parents who Segel did not consider religious themselves, he didn’t haveÂ the necessary context for religion at home that is necessary to form a religious identity.
Susan Katz Miller takes issue with Haartezâ€™s framing of the interview: â€śClearly, by leading with this idea [of interfaith equals outsider], the intent was to use Segelâ€™s story as a cautionary tale, warning parents away from dual-faith education, or from interfaith marriage in general.â€ť
The argument that raising children in an interfaith family can lead to them not identifying as Jewish is nothing new. AndÂ Katz Miller makes some good points in response to this assertion, including:
â€śYes, it is essential for interfaith children to have support for integrating two (or more) cultures in their families, rather than bouncing back and forth between two separate religious worlds.”
Katz Miller touches on the danger in simply being dropped into two different religious institutions without enough context at home or awareness withinÂ the religious institutions themselves about interfaith families. We donâ€™t know exactly what Segelâ€™s religious life was like at home, but it sounds like there might not have been much reinforcement of what he was learning outside the home. At InterfaithFamily, we try to educate parents and offer many ways to boost their knowledge of Judaism and how to do Jewish at home, so that a child has a framework for what they are learning and why itâ€™s important to their family. And we work to help Jewish organizations create a welcoming environment where kids will feel they belong–regardless of their background.
Everyone stand in a big circle. If you have a parent who is not Jewish, take a step inside the circle. Stay there. Now, if you are still in the outside circle, and you have a close relative who is not Jewish, take a step inside the circle.Â
Everyone looked around and saw that nearly all of the more than 75 participants had taken a step inside the circle.
And so began InterfaithFamily/Philadelphiaâ€™s Sensitivity Training for counselors at Camp JRF (the Reconstructionist movementâ€™s overnight camp in the Pennsylvania Poconos) for working with children from interfaith homes. This trainingâ€”which I conducted along with my IFF/Philadelphia colleagues Wendy Armon and Robin Warsawâ€”was part of the campâ€™s Inclusivity Training for counselors in the week before campers arrived. It was clear to all of the counselors in attendance that being part of an interfaith family isnâ€™t just a theoretical issue for liberal Jews today, itâ€™s something that touches almost every one of us personally.
Over the next hour, we explored how the counselors could best handle various issues that might come up during the summer. For example, what do you do as a counselor when youâ€™re leading a discussion about God and one of the campers brings up Jesus? The counselors also divided up into small groups and discussed and acted out various scenarios involving interfaith issues, such as how to react when a camper says that she is â€śhalf Jewish and half [another religion]â€ť or when a camper claims that his bunkmate â€śisnâ€™t really Jewish.â€ť
I was amazed at the counselorsâ€™ thoughtfulness and sensitivity, their insight and creativity, and their openness to discussing challenging issues. After the training, the three of us from IFF/Philadelphia had the pleasure of joining the counselors for a healthy and delicious (really!) lunchâ€”which was followed by a rousing song session in which the counselors sang some of the songs theyâ€™ve been learning in advance of the campersâ€™ arrival. Then we were in for a real treat, as the campâ€™s director, Rabbi Isaac Saposnik, took us on a tour (by golf cart) of the camp. We saw how the different activity areas were labeled with signs that looked like Israeli street signs, naming the activity in Hebrew, English and Arabic. A highlight of the tour was the campâ€™s new Eco-Village (designed with the input of campers from the past year), a super cool area where campers entering their freshman and sophomore years of high school will live in yurts.
More than once throughout our day at Camp JRF, we heard someone use the camp expression â€śHow We Be.â€ť At Camp JRF, diversity isnâ€™t just toleratedâ€¦it isnâ€™t just acceptedâ€¦itâ€™s embraced! One thing was clear:Â â€śWe all be differentâ€¦and thatâ€™s wonderful!â€ť Camp JRF is very much a JEWISH camp, but every person at campâ€”counselor or camperâ€”is encouraged to express his or her Judaism in a way that is personally meaningful. And each person understands that he or she has to respect how others â€śbe.â€ť Thereâ€™s no â€śone size fits all.â€ť Each individual is unique, and that makes for a vibrant camp community.
I have no doubt that the campers who attend Camp JRF this summer will have an amazing time. Theyâ€™ll swim and play Frisbee; dance and sing; make new friends and have all kinds of exciting and rewarding experiences. If theyâ€™re going into ninth or tenth gradeâ€”theyâ€™ll even get to live in a yurt! But most important, theyâ€™ll know that theyâ€™re living in a community where their uniqueness is embraced and they are accepted for who they are, as they are. And THAT is a great way to â€śbe.â€ť
I have a tradition with a friend whose birthday is also in April, of going out for lobster to celebrate. This is the fourth year we have done this. She is a former synagogue president and Jewish volunteer and as you know, I am a rabbi. I do not promote or broadcast my decision not to keep kosher (each liberal Jew has to learn about and make an educated, autonomous choice about how to practice Judaism) and for some, keeping kosher is a daily reminder about ethical living, environmentalism, animal rights, our sacred responsibility to feed the hungry, choices we are making about the food we consume and the blessings around us all the time.
Our serverâ€™s name was Josh S. We told Josh S. that this was our â€śun-kosherâ€ť birthday lunch and we were hungry and excited to eat! He chuckled. During the meal my friend was telling me about how her son, who married a Catholic woman, just got baptized over Easter as a Hebrew Catholic. It was with some sadness, internal wrestling and wonderment that she shared this news with me. She and her family attended his baptism and her son cried tears of joy and relief that his family supported him through his spiritual and religious journey.
My friend knows that some other mothers would have said, â€ślove is lost and you are no longer my son,â€ť andÂ other mothers would have said, â€ślove is not lost, but I can’t come to your ceremony.â€ťÂ Her son was an active Reform Jew his whole life and even sought out his local synagogue when he was living on his own after college. He did not feel he was greeted there with warmth, welcome or interest from anyone in the community as a newcomer. When he went to church with his wife, however, he was greeted with retreat opportunities to get to know others in a relaxed, fun and engaging atmosphere. He was greeted with love and open arms. We spoke about the need for radical cultural shifts in many synagogues to become a place not of â€śmembershipâ€ť like a private club, but â€śMy House Shall Be a House of Prayer for All Peopleâ€ť as is emblazed across Chicago Sinai a verse from Isaiah, for instance. My friend has come to a beautiful place of acceptance and peace because her child is happy.
At the end of our two-pound lobster lunch (in addition to multiple coleslaws and garlic breadâ€”yes we felt a little sick!) our waiter came with the check. Something made me ask him about being â€śJosh S.â€ť He explained that he was the new Josh and had to have his last initial on his name tag. He went on to tell us that the S. stands for Schwartz and his Dad is Jewish and mom is Catholic. He was raised Catholic but certainly feels close to his Jewish side of the family. He spoke about going to his grandmaâ€™s for holidays and of Jewish foods. He told me he was open to talking more and learning more about InterfaithFamily/Chicago. He said he was confused or conflicted at times growing up, but as an adult has a religious identity.
Oh, I have so many questions for this young man. Are there any ways the Jewish community could be accessible to him if he wants to learn about his heritage? I am going to suggest a Taste of Judaism class among other ideas. He shared his email address so that we can continue the conversation. I taught him the Yiddish word, â€śbeshertâ€ť meaning inevitable or preordained (often referring to oneâ€™s soul mate).
Whatâ€™s my take-away from this lunch? There are many, many people who have family members who are Jewish, who are heirs to this great culture and way of life. Whatever paths they have chosen, they may be interested in learning more about Judaism and connecting in some way as adults. We need to make sure our synagogues are accessible, period. And Jewish Community Centers and other Jewish cultural centers like Spertus should also be celebrated by our community as places where someone can tentatively tip toe in and maybe end up staying a while.
I went to an edgy opera recently called, Lilith the Night Demon in One Lewd Act. Lilith isnâ€™t mentioned in the book of Genesis, but the opera based itself on early Jewish tales of a woman who was created before Eve in the Garden of Eden. Unlike Eve, who was born out of Adamâ€™s side, Lilith was created from the earth at the same moment as Adam. They fought about everything, especially her refusal to assume his desired sexual position. Adam made it clear to God that he didnâ€™t appreciate this insubordination and wanted her out. Lilith left in a huff, followed by three angels who implored her to return to the Garden of Eden. When she refused, they told her that she would spend eternity as a demon, bearing and killing hundreds of demon babies daily. With Lilith gone, Eve was created, destined to play the obedient and submissive â€śgood girlâ€ť to Lilithâ€™s strong-willed and demanding â€śbad girl.â€ť The legend also provided a rationale for the high numbers of babies and women dying in childbirth. Lilith became the scapegoat for the unexplained mysteries of life and death.
Lilith rose in contemporary times as a model of strength, and has an all-woman folk music festival named for her as well as a Jewish feminist magazine. Treating her as a feminist icon, we often conveniently forget the part of the story when she turns into a baby-killing demon. Or perhaps we quietly recognize that so often women have been metaphorically demonized when they demanded personhood.
But Lilith is also beloved because she is the quintessential outsider, allowing us to easily identify with her. It is an epidemic in Judaism to believe that each of us stands outside of some inner sanctum peeking in. In truth, I have met a handful of Jews who donâ€™t feel this way.Â But many more share this uneasy feeling that we are the only ones who donâ€™t know enough: We donâ€™t know whatâ€™s going on during services, we donâ€™t have the right parentage, we donâ€™t know the Yiddish or Hebrew that is tossed around in conversation. We arenâ€™t wealthy like other Jews. We were not born Jewish, or we are in an interfaith relationship. Like a kid on the school playground, many Jews and people who spend time in Jewish communities see ourselves as the kid left out of the club. Other people are the ones who really belong. If only we knew that most everyone feels this way.
Unfortunately, too many of us have actually been told at one time or another that we donâ€™t quite fit an internal stereotypical image of what a Jew should be, or arenâ€™t following the rules. This is natural within a community that defines itself both as one people, yet also contains within it many distinct ways of defining itself. Furthermore, throughout our history, Judaism has had to create walls to define who is in and who is out for its own survival and we still struggle over the height of those boundaries. Reality, yes. But it still hurts.
The problem is, I see us â€śotheringâ€ť ourselves. Once we feel or are told that there is a bias against us, we often glorify our place on the outside. We revel in it. We define ourselves by it. We become Lilith peeking in at what everyone else is doing in the Garden of Eden.
There was a time in my life when I identified strongly with the figure of Lilith. I was a rabbinical student dating someone who wasnâ€™t Jewish. I didnâ€™t even know if I would finish my studies to become a rabbi. I felt like a boundary-breaker and wanted to own it. Perhaps even to flaunt it. I studied Lilith. I wrote about Lilith. I read every reference to her I could get my hands on. Except for the baby-killing part of the story, I wanted to be her. But I received some good advice from a trusted mentor to be wary of overly identifying with her. She was right. I was basking in my feelings of otherness. If I had stayed there, I wouldnâ€™t have been able to see myself as a change-maker from inside Judaism.
Feeling that I was on the outside woke me up to how so many people in Jewish communities feel. And I started to realize what a loss it is for everyone if we accept a seat on the outside. Jewish communities need all of usâ€”not just the ones who fit nicely into a box.
Lilith has a lot to teach us. She teaches us to figure out who we are and stand up for what we believe is right. And she teaches us that if we allow others to cut us out, we canâ€™t effect change from within.
The first Monday of the month from 9-10 am I set up a booth at the Weinger JCC lobby (300 Revere Drive, Northrbook). I channel Lucy from Peanuts and her â€ś5 cents Psychiatry booth.â€ť I have done this twice so far.Â I feel a little awkward but I canâ€™t think of a better way to make myself available to meet and talk. (And if someone just wants to go about their business, I certainly wonâ€™t get in their way.)
I know that some of you have questions and comments and welcome this way to connect. It is with anticipation and butterflies in my stomach that I wonder who might wander over and what we might discuss.
The first Monday in May someone came over and said, â€śAsk a Rabbi?â€ť
I said, â€śIâ€™m a rabbi, do you have any questions?â€ť
She sat down and we talked about her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We spoke about her youngest great-grandchildren being raised with Judaism by a mom who is not Jewish and her admiration for her.
Because my friends know I am a rabbi, I often get to field theological issues as they come up. I just got a text from a friend that said that her daughter wanted to know who invented God! And I was supposed to text back and answer! I did. I wrote: Great question! My belief is that God has always been with no beginning and end. One of the mystical names for God is ein sofâ€”without end. But if she believes people invented God she is still a good Jew and if she doesnâ€™t believe in the supernatural, she may be drawn to secular humanism. When I saw this friend at the park we both laughed about texting this kind of thing. Sometimes when these kinds of questions come up, weâ€™ll mull them over, discuss with a parent or friend or handle it in a satisfying enough way without a â€śprofessional.â€ť
However, if you are around Northbrook the first Monday of the month and want to share something your kids said, or something you have been thinking about, or a question about a holiday or practice, or something you saw at a bar or bat mitzvah or you want advice about speaking with your in-laws about a religious topicâ€¦ I canâ€™t wait to hear about it. I donâ€™t have all the answers. My thoughts and approaches are only right if they feel right to you. I wonâ€™t tell you what to do. But, if it lends itself we will probably laugh. I can direct you to others in the community if you have a particular interest. I am a mom of two young kids, I think about how to raise mensches (Yiddish for good person), I live a harried life and I love the Shabbat rituals (although they rarely get accompanied by a sit-down family mealâ€”some of you can share how you accomplish this with me). I would love to learn and talk with you.
My youngest has been asking a lot about where he was before he got into my tummy, what he did in there and where God is now. I yearn to meet other people who can stop for a minute and share our humanity. We can look at each other and see where we overlap and understand each other and sense where our diversity and different backgrounds bring us to our own questions and concerns.
I hope to see you June 2 at 9am in Northbrook. If this location and time doesnâ€™t work for you, but you want to philosophize about something or just have a quick question, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On May 1, 2014, the American Jewish Press Association announced the winners of the 33rd Annual Simon Rockower Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism. InterfaithFamily is honored to receive several awards from this well-loved organization. We were recognized in the following categories:
1st Place: Award for Excellence in Organizational Newsletters (eNewsletter)
1st Place: Award for Outstanding Digital Outreach (Web Based Outlets)
2nd Place: Award for Excellence in Blogging
Simon Rockower was a man who taught his children to always ask good questions and he believed in the importance of leaving the legacy of a good name. In 1979, as a century tribute to him by his sons, the Rockower family createdÂ theÂ SimonÂ Rockower Jewish JournalismÂ Awards with the American Jewish Press Association (AJPA) to honor Simon and his deep love for the craft of Jewish Journalism.Â
It is a prize in itself to be celebrated among the best in Jewish journalism. Our sincere thanks go to Lindsey Silken, our Editorial Director, who has helped to lead us toward these accolades.
InterfaithFamily empowers people in interfaith relationshipsâ€”individuals, couples, families and their childrenâ€”to engage in Jewish life and make Jewish choices, and encourages Jewish communities to welcome them. We will continue to offer exciting web-based content as well as resources in your communities to create positive outcomes for interfaith couples and families.
Iâ€™ve been out and about lately (Diversity Shabbat at Temple Chai in Long Grove and the PJ Library Conference in Baltimore) hearing some things that are making me think. I am a philosophizing kind of gal, so I love to hear new nuggets that stop me and give me pause.
These are random comments I have heard which I share with you. I look forward to your thoughts about them.
Last month, our Founder and CEO, Ed Case, presented at JFN2014: Jewish Funders Network International Conference in Miami, in a session called â€śEngaging Interfaith Families Jewishly.â€ť It was a first for InterfaithFamily, and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to talk about such a critically important issue to Jewish life.
Werenâ€™t there and want to know what you missed? Hereâ€™s an interview Ed did while at the conference that captures the â€śessenceâ€ť of the session and what we spend our days thinking about: supporting interfaith families interested in exploring Jewish life.
I will be speaking as part of Diversity Shabbat on Friday, April 25. The Torah portion for this Shabbat includes the well-known and still profound statement, â€śYou shall be holy, for I, the Eternal your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). This difficult demand is directed to “the whole Israelite community” (19:2). It is addressed not only to the priests, elders and respected ones, but also to all men, women and children; young and old; and leaders as well as people in the community.
Here is what I believe:
Who is the â€śwhole Israelite community?â€ť It is all of you here. If you were brought up with Judaism, or have found yourself in Jewish life because you fell in love with someone Jewish, if you have a parent who isnâ€™t Jewish, if you wandered away from organized Jewish life, whether you think about Judaism throughout the week or notâ€¦you are the whole Israelite community.
If you cast your fate, so to speak, with the Jewish peopleâ€¦feel proud of and part of our amazing history, feel inspired by our audacious hope even in the face of despair, want your children to learn values and ancient wisdom from our texts which we still argue with and confront today, you are the whole Israelite community. If you want American, liberal Judaism to exist in the years to come because it adds creativity, nuance, ingenuity, joy, order, sacred purpose, social justice, support for education and so much more to our society, then you are the whole Israelite community.
If you have a Christmas tree in your living room, enjoy a cheeseburger, have grandparents and cousins and extended family who share Christianity with your children, yet you are here because you identify with Judaism, you are the whole Israelite community. You are in. You are good enough. We want you here. You are worthy. Your Judaism is authentic. You have layered, complex, multi-faceted family dynamics and you work to create Shalom bayitâ€”peace in your home and your wider homeâ€”which is one of the most important mitzvot (commandments)â€¦we understand. Itâ€™s a journey. You make decisions. You revisit decisions. Identity grows and changes. You are the whole Israelite community.
There is one God of peace and love. We are one people, trying to make our family, our circle of friendships, our workplaces, our school communities, our Temple family, our world a more just, kind and decent place.
You shall be holy. This is holy work. The word in Hebrew for honor as in the 10 Commandments, to honor our parents, is kavod. This word also comes from the word for heavy. True honor and respect is a heavy pursuit. This is not for the faint of heart. This stretches us and brings us into new territory. But, ultimately, loving our neighbor next to us in these seats is holy because you are your neighbor. We are one.