An Alternative Al Chet/Confession List*–For Parents and Educators of Jewish Girls

This piece was originally published on the Ma’yan blog on September 29th, 2014
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A new year is coming: a time to reflect, refresh, renew. We have raised our children as best we could, given them the tools they need to grow strong and thriving, shown them love as only we know how. Yet we too have missed the mark.

We have missed the mark by exercising power

We have been jealous, incredulous or doubtful of young peoples’ power

We have pushed youth to take on more more more

We have left youth alone too much

We have missed the mark through our inner thoughts

We have told young people to love their bodies while silently poking and prodding at our own flaws in the mirror

We have idealized the beauty of youth

We have experienced feeling unheard, unnoticed, misunderstood, and perpetuated this feeling onto the next generation

We have missed the mark through harsh speech and hard-heartedness

We have made scoffing remarks about “kids these days”

We have told young people they’ll understand when they’re older, to do something because we said so, or to wait until they’re in the real world

We have been too terrified to ask young people about the things we know are on their minds: bodies, sex, sexuality, social life, money…

We have made decisions about how young people should spend their time, without their consultation

 

We have missed the mark without thinking

We have neglected to model the possibility of living life to its fullest vibrancy, at every stage, at every age

We have not involved enough men in the rearing of children

We have not modeled relaxation and self-care

We have missed the mark by degrading parents and teachers

We have forgotten to see our relationships with young people as a two-way street, with infinite potential

We have missed the mark by denial and false promises

We have passively watched the media parade pictures of photoshopped women, flaunt princess narratives and promise better lives with more purchases, without rising up and fighting back

We have pushed our own hopes and agendas onto the next generation

We have been uninvolved in the fights against racism, climate change, homophobia and other important issues, with the hope that the next generation would take care of it

We have missed the mark by arrogance

We have cared more about being liked and cool than being a real ally to young people

We have allowed logistics, schedules and to do lists to get in the way of genuine connection time with the young folks in our lives

We have missed the mark by confusion of the heart

We have neglected to reflect on our own inner-child, to offer her the same nurturing we provide to the young people in our lives

We have been hard on ourselves, we have not forgiven ourselves for the mistakes we have made, we have not reminded ourselves that we too deserves compassion

For all of these things and more, help us find the strength to forgive and keep going. Help us remember that we are not alone in this loving, necessary, difficult and communal work of raising up the next generation.

*A traditional Al Chet/Confession List is read communally during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur

Talia Cooper is Ma’yan‘s Program Director.  Contact talia@mayan.org

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