My family are typical disappearing Jews. Each generation drifts a little further away from Judaism. My grandparents were strictly religious; my parents were not, but were still quite traditional; my generation is Jewish by name only, not involved with anything Jewish. At this rate, what will my kids look like? Is there any way to stop this trend?
Have you seen the new regulations about taking luggage onto a plane? Some airlines don't allow you on the plane with any hand-luggage. There's a spiritual message in that. If you have too much baggage, you can't get on the flight.
Many of us see Jewishness as a big bag of treasure, handed down from one generation to another. This bag is very precious, full of wise advice, rich tradition and meaningful insight. But it can be a burden. It's heavy to carry three thousand years of baggage as you travel along the road of life. As valuable as the treasure may be, it will sometimes seem impractical to carry it all. Each generation will look through the treasure for what seems the most valuable, and discard the excess baggage.
But there is another way to look at it. Judaism is not the luggage we carry through the journey of life. It is the journey of life. It is not something we take on our travels, it is the path that we are travelling on itself. Jewishness is not static. You don't carry it, you live it. It is not a treasure that belonged to your parents, it is a journey that belongs to you.
Jewish commitment is not measured by how much we do but rather by how far we have travelled. It is not about how religious I am today, it is about how much I have grown. If we are growing in our spiritual connection, if we are learning more about our tradition, if we are deepening our commitment to G-d, then we are on the road.
This message will seep down to the next generation. Our children will make their own choices, and there are no guarantees. But one thing is clear. Our children's view of Judaism is shaped by the way we live it. If we carry Judaism as a precious burden, then that's what it will be to them - and the burden may seem too heavy. But if we embrace our own Jewishness as a soul journey, then our children will more likely want to come along for the ride.
Teach yourself and your children to drop their baggage. It's the only way to fly.