Parenting Podcast: We Are Not in Control

Parenting Podcast by Wendy Grinberg, RJE

Hurricane Irene reminded us this week once again that we are not in control. Anything can happen at any time. I have thought that the experiences of pregnancy and labor are good lessons in this for people about to become parents, and I can only imagine that the process of adopting children is a constant reminder as well. This fact is frightening, and it also threatens our sense of justice, because bad things do happen, and they often happen to good people. This week in a special edition parenting podcast, Rabbi Edie Mencher and I talk about the approaching anniversary of September 11th and the bigger question of how to orient ourselves and our children in a world where things like September 11th happen.

Tomorrow night is Rosh Chodesh Elul, and we begin our preparation for the Days of Awe. On the High Holidays we will read: “Repentance, prayer and charity (tzedakah) temper judgment’s severe decree.” Reflecting on this verse today, “judgment’s severe decree” signifies to me that harsh fact of life that we live in a world that seems to be unpredictable and often unfair. So what can we do to cope? Firstly, repent, or improve ourselves. When we are the best we can be, we bring kindness to others. Secondly, we can pray, acknowledging that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and allowing ourselves to dream and hope for a more perfect time. Thirdly, we can restore justice (tzedek) through our own right action. Rabbi Mencher reminds us to talk to children about people who chose to do heroic things in the face of tragedy and to empower our children to make a difference with their actions as well. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, we may still be dealing with feelings of anger and pain. There is a time for those feelings. And there is a time for making our own small efforts to improve the world, assuaging our own pain and the pain of others through the power within each of us to spread kindness.

In addition to Rabbi Mencher’s podcast, there’s an article you can print out with similar tips and other resources at

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Wendy Grinberg, RJE is a URJ Parenting Specialist

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