By Cantor Lorna Wallach
Each year at CBI we have a “Youth Group” Shabbat. (This year it is on Friday evening, November 13.) Along with our annual Sisterhood Shabbat and Men’s Club Shabbat, this is perhaps one of the most important programs that we do at CBI to help encourage and cultivate knowledgeable and committed Jews and leaders of the Jewish community.
Each year, as our teens take over an entire Friday night service, I am filled with joy and a sense of hope for the future of Conservative Judaism. It is gratifying to see these recent B’nai Mitzvah put their Davenning and Hebrew skills to use and also to voluntarily participate in various capacities in the service.
The prophet Isaiah made a promise after the destruction of the Temple that Jerusalem would be rebuilt and the people would be re-connected to G-d saying, “And all of your children shall be students of the Lord and great shall be the peace of your children.” (Isaiah 54:13). There is a beautiful and profound midrash on this sentence which appears at the end of a number of tractates of the Talmud (Berachot, Yevamot, Nazir and Kritot) and is also found in many traditional siddurim at the conclusion of the morning tefillot:
Rabbi Eleazar said in the name of Rabbi Hanina: The students of the wise (talmedei hachamim) increase peace in the world, as it says, ‘And all of your children shall be students of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children (banayich).’ Don’t read this word ‘banayich — your children’ (as the regular vocalization suggests) — but rather read it ‘bonaich‘ — your builders’.
In other words, our children are the builders for the future and the more our children experience Judaism, learning and living its values and striving to be holy, the better our world will be.