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Hello Beth Emeth!
As the days grow increasingly short and the nights increasingly long we look forward to the lights and joy of Hanukkah. Family and friends will gather together to fry latkes, light candles and share gifts. One gift I would like to share with all of you is the gift of your children. Yes the ones you already have and no it's not to send them to spend time with me so you can get a moment away. The gift I would like to give you is actually not for you it's for your children, from you. 
To me foundationally the greatest gift I ever received from my parents was the gift of attention and a friendly conversation. Hanukkah presents itself as a very pragmatic time of year to garner one’s children's attention, with their hopes full of the potential of amazing gifts such as the the new Playstation or Xbox. In addition to those gifts I ask that you sit down or go for a walk with your kids and talk to them about why you are Jewish and why you have raised them as Jews. In the changing world of today children grow up faster than we like, and with this past election children were exposed to an array of diverse opinions on many matters. Judaism gives our children a foundation to question and learn from others. In fact we Jews have questioned G-d's existence for so long that even in the Bible after ten plagues and being lead out of Egypt it was not enough to guarantee to the Jewish people that G-d existed!
 Your child is full of questions and by having a conversation about why you yourself are Jewish and what that means to you they can  come up with new questions for themselves, and maybe even some new questions to be asked of yourself and your own Judaism.
 We talk a lot about what is best for our children, this Hanukkah season I hope that we give the gift of ourselves and our ideas to our children. Its conversations like these that help inspire our kids to continue on our shared Jewish legacy, it's what helps get teens involved at the Temple level to do youth group and to be Madrichim, it's what inspires Jewish people to be leaders in their Synagogues. I wish you all a happy Hanukkah and a happy New Year! 

-Ben Lasner
Director of Youth Engagement 

Sun, October 22 2017 2 Cheshvan 5778