Saturday, January 8, 2011

And you shall teach them to your children

Shavua tov!

In many locations – both in Israel and around the world – Motza”Sh (i.e. motzai Shabbat, or Saturday night) means Avot U’Banim (AKA Avos U’Banim in much of the Diaspora).

Literally translated as “Fathers and Sons”, the name refers to a weekly father-son Torah learning session – usually accompanied by assorted prizes for the participants.

Yet, seeing as this is the 21st century and all, Avot U’Banim naturally begs the question: What about the daughters?

Perhaps this is less of an issue in the chareidi world. (Note to would-be flamers: Please don’t misconstrue this as chareidi-bashing.)

However, in the national-religious world – where women continue to make incredible strides in fields such as science, technology, medicine, education, politics, business, law, academia, and Torah study – parents are also eager to learn Torah with their daughters.

And, so, a number of different creative ways have been found to open these “Avot U’Banim” sessions to girls as well.

For instance, in some communities, the program is now known as “Avot V’Yeladim” (literally, “Fathers and Children”), and fathers bring their offspring of both genders.

Meanwhile, other communities (such as our neighborhood) organize two separate weekly programs: “Avot U’Banim” as well as “Imahot U’Vanot” (“Mothers and Daughters”).

Which brings me to a beautiful event I was privileged to attend at MAG’s yeshiva high school a few months ago.

Billed as an evening of mother-son Torah learning, the event took place on Rachel Imeinu’s yahrzeit.

Fathers were pointedly not invited to the event, during which the mothers and sons learned the sources b’chavrutot (in study pairs) and then heard shiurim by the Rosh Yeshiva and some of the Ramim. (The evening also included a parenting lecture for the mothers as well as a mother-son trivia game prepared by the boys.)

I admit that before I went, I was kind of skeptical about the whole thing, but it proved to be a truly wonderful and memorable occasion.

And lest you think that it was meant as some sort of gimmick, I should explain that the yeshiva in question (one of Israel’s top yeshiva high schools) prides itself on having no particular “angle” – other than producing outstanding bnai Torah and yirei Shamayim who go on to excel in the secular and Torah worlds. (And I’m not just saying that because the CTO is an alumnus… :-))

In other words, this is definitely NOT a yeshiva which tries to push the envelope or be on the cutting edge of socio-cultural developments.

Rather, the event was simply a reflection of the administration’s recognition of a changing reality – namely, that in this day and age, women are just as accomplished as men, and therefore, the students are just as likely to learn Torah with their mothers as they are with their fathers.

What have your children’s schools done to acknowledge women’s achievements in Torah learning?


P.S. The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Batya for including my simple mushroom rice recipe.


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  2. I LOVE the idea of a mother-son event. This is especially great for the sons of single mothers, who usually feel very out of place at father-son events. In all of my son's years of schooling, I only attended one event with him- Family Bingo night. I would have loved to attend more.

  3. I agree with SuperRaizy - not for me, but for single moms that I know.

    There are men who take their daughters to our local Sat. night mishmar (and I know a mom that takes her daughter), but my husband is STILL taking our 8th grade son and not our daughter. OK, I shouldn't be complaining to you...

  4. Yes, I attended a similar event when Y. was in 9th grade at the very same yeshiva HS and also found it to be a lovely idea both in concept and in practice. Of course when i ask my shiur aleph son when a similar event will be taking place in his yeshiva gevoha, I get a rather sarcastic "any day now, Ima..."

  5. Raizy - Yes, it really is to the school's credit that they had such an event.

    Leora - What made this event better than our community's weekly Avot U'Banim and Imahot U'Banot sessions was that it was for only one grade. In contrast, at the weekly learning sessions, parents often have to balance between two or more kids of very different ages and abilities.

    Malke - LOL! :-) But to be fair, back when your Shiur Aleph son (and the CTO) attended this same high school, mother-son learning events weren't exactly on the school's radar (to put it mildly)...

  6. What a cheering article for the religious feminist in me! Did your son enjoy it too?

  7. Ilana-Davita - Did your son enjoy it too?
    This made me smile, because in my experience, teenage boys rarely admit to enjoying anything...

    Nevertheless, I have reason to believe that as far as he's concerned, it could've been worse. Which is quite a compliment... :-)

  8. I could answer your final question in a single compound word. My son would never go for this type of thing, though, though I used to learn some navi with him years back.

  9. Ariella - My son would never go for this type of thing,
    That's one of the reasons I thought this event was so special. It showed the boys that even the Rosh Yeshiva himself thinks that they can - and should! - learn Torah with their mothers.


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