How many times have you heard the flight attendant in the front of the plane give those same directions:

“… In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from above. If you are traveling with a child, place your mask on first …”

What great Torah! Who knew it would come from a Delta Flight Attendant!

My friend Ira Wise shared this idea on his blog. What’s the point you may ask? The point to the airplane passenger is clear: you can’t care for your child or the person you are caring for unless you take care for yourself first.

We often see folks in the Jewish community focus a lot of attention on children. It is important — crucial — to insure that the next generation of Jews has a meaningful, worthwhile Jewish education. But the best way to make this guarantee is for us — the adult parents, grandparents, teachers, aunts, uncles, siblings — to get enough “oxygen” for ourselves first. It is hard to have our children be inspired by Judaism if we don’t show them that we are. We can’t teach our children to act like a mensch unless they see us doing so. They won’t live generous lives unless they see us be generous ourselves (with time and yes, with tzedakah).

Ayekah is about asking the ultimate question: “Where are you?”

I believe with all my heart that our children will learn how to be Jewish from us. Rabbis, cantors, educators, youth workers, among others can never be a replacement for the parent searching for his/her own relationship with God, Israel and Torah.

So imagine me as your flight attendant for this journey:

Welcome to the 2011! It is a complicated world and sometimes we have overwhelming pressure. To get through it, grab your Torah…take it for yourself and pass it on to your children or the children in your lives (of any age!)….

I wish you a safe and fulfilling journey.

P.S. If you want to start your trip and are a part of Beth Tikvah’s community, be sure to check out our adult learning opportunities. Rabbi Tam is sharing his Jewish response to modern day atheist arguments on Sunday mornings, I am teaching a class on the Arab Israeli Conflict at the JCC-Zaban campus (TBT members get the JCC member rate), and we have a great new program called Ayeka! Ayeka was created in Israel three years ago by Rabbi Aryeh Ben David, who has been teaching adults for 30 years. This program’s goal is not about information, but personal transformation. Ayeka meets in small groups in which people look at Jewish texts as a point of departure for exploring how to bring meaningfulness to our daily lives and actions, enhancing our days and our interactions. I am hoping our TBT friends will be inerested in joining us for this experience. Joan Marks is hosting a “Taste of Ayeka” before the full seminar starts. If you would like to sign up for the “Taste,” it will be at on Sunday, January 23rd at 10 am. We are limited to only 20 people, so if you are interested, contact me or Joan directly.