Have you ever taken a submarine ride to view the ocean floor? If you have, you will have noticed that as you descend, the water filters out colors in stages as you go deeper. Life can lose its color, too. As we go through our every day routines, we get caught up in the mundane. We tend to live life at its most basic level. Think about your day. Do you remember the drive to work? Did you really halt at the stop sign? Were you even aware that you dropped the kids off for a music lesson or Hebrew school? What did you have for dinner?
Did you live today or did you merely exist?
One thing we all have been discussing these days is quality time. Generally, that means we’ll spend more time with our families and less time away from home. While it is important to share in your children’s activities and bond with them, I suggest that is not enough. We have responsibilities as parents. While valuable lessons about teamwork and getting along with others can be learned by playing sports, where is the spirituality that adds the value and color to our lives?
Volunteerism can help restore some of that meaning. By taking an active role in your men’s club or sisterhood, you teach your children so much more. They learn what it means to be a Jew and how that can lead to becoming a mensch. Just think of some of the things that go on in the synagogue community and in men’s clubs in particular.
I can’t over emphasize the importance of men being role models. Helping plan and run an event that benefits your children shows them how much they mean to you and how Judaism can be an integral part of their lives. They can tell their friends that you did something special for them. These programs do not need to be religion-based, but being part of the men’s club programming imparts a Jewish component that doesn’t go unnoticed. “Hey, we had a baseball game at the shul today!” Or “Guess what? Dad and I delivered food to the needy today.” Or “Would you believe that we built houses out of matzah after Hebrew school?”
Then again, what is wrong with engaging your children with religiously oriented programs? Several FJMC programs help here, too. Build-A-Pair introduces youth to the mitzvah of tefillin and Yad Shel Chai encourages Torah reading. (More information on these programs can be found at www.fjmc.org.)
On a personal level, volunteerism can be very rewarding and FJMC offers many opportunities for involvement. Whether you are interested in social action, learning to put on tefillin, increasing your knowledge of Judaism, just socializing while your children are in Hebrew school, or having a night out, there are programs for you. Your ideas are always welcome and don’t be afraid of getting caught up in the planning. You will feel great to have helped. The number and scope of FJMC and local men’s club programs is too broad to discuss here, but your club members will be only too happy to fill in the details. If you don’t see what you like, make a suggestion and get involved.
So what is the downside of volunteering? None, really. Your children or significant other might see you in a new light. Or you might learn a bit about your background and Judaism. Or you might pass your values on to your children. Or you might feel more connected to your synagogue and Judaism. Or you might contribute to tikkun olam, the repair of the world!
How’s that for restoring the color?