Celebrate Children’s Sabbath

Help us Celebrate Philadelphia’s 23rd Annual Children’s Sabbath on Sunday, October 16 @ 3pm at Rodeph Shalom

In Rab’s day, there was a teacher whose prayer for the rain was answered promptly. When asked to tell of his special merit, he said, I teach children of the poor as well as of the rich, I accept no fee from any who cannot afford it, and I have a fishpond to delight the children and to encourage them to do their lessons. (Ta’anit 24a)
This text from the Talmud reminds us how important education is in the Jewish tradition. It emphasizes that all children, regardless of socioeconomic status, deserve a quality education. On Sunday, October 16th at 3pm, our congregation will join with other congregations across the city to celebrate Philadelphia’s 23rd annual Children’s Sabbath.  Sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund, the National Observance is a way for faith communities to celebrate children as sacred gifts of the Divine, and provides the opportunity for houses of worship to renew and live out their moral responsibility to care, protect, and advocate for all children. Rodeph Shalom is proud to be hosting the Children’s Sabbath again this year after a 10 year hiatus.

This celebration is a part of a broader children’s movement that aims to unite communities and religious congregations of all faiths across the nation in shared concern for children and a common commitment to improving their lives and working for justice on their behalf. In that respect, each action is bigger, more powerful, and more inspiring than the efforts of any one celebration. The 2016 National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths® Celebration, “Children of Promise: Closing Opportunity Gaps” will focus on closing opportunity gaps due to poverty and lack of access to high-quality early childhood development and a high-quality education so that every child can reach their God-given potential. For that to happen, we as people of faith need to stand tall within our communities and push our nation to keep our promises of love and justice, equality and dignity for all.

We are squandering and hindering our children’s promise when we allow:

  • More than one in five to live in poverty
    One in seventeen to lack health coverage
    One in nine to be at risk of hunger
    Two in five 8th grade public school children to read or compute below grade level
    Nearly one in five children to drop out of high school.

Elie Wiesel (z”l) once wrote, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” This service will be a chance for us to come together and protest the gaps that exist between our promises to our children and the realities they face. The service itself will feature inspiring music from various religious choirs, blessings from religious leaders, a keynote address from Minister Rodney Muhammad, president of the NAACP, excerpts from our congregant Arden Kass’ “School Play,” and facts and information about the current opportunity gaps in our public education system and ways we can make a difference.

I hope you and your family will join us on Sunday, October 16th at 3pm to sing, pray, learn, and join in fellowship. We still need families to help usher, greet, and welcome our interfaith guests.  If you are interested in helping please contact me (rabbifreedman@rodephshalom.org).

We read in the Zohar, “When the children are blessed, the parents by this very token are blessed.”  Come join us as we bless our children, and all the children of our city and nation, so that we may merit God’s blessing as well.
– Rabbi Eli Freedman