Generation to Generation: Teaching Your Children to Set Priorities

NYBR podcast image of Yael and her daugher

With increasing demands on our time and attention coming from all sides — emails, text messages, Zoom calls, social media — how can families today find the time to connect with each other, and more importantly, with God? For thousands of years, Jewish families have answered this dilemma with one word — Shabbat, the Sabbath. Podcast host Yael Eckstein continues her summer series on passing our faith on to the next generation by exploring how the weekly observance of the Sabbath — a 25-hour cessation of all outside activity — helps her children learn how to set priorities and focus on what’s truly important. Discover how the principles found in observing the Sabbath can help your family reconnect with each other and with God. Listen now!

Episode Notes:

Yael Eckstein grew up in a loving family, but like many families today, was also extremely busy. As Yael recounted, her father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, would get up at 5 a.m. for prayer and Bible study and then headed off to work to begin his day at 7 a.m. Her mother started the day a bit later, but once she had Yael and her sisters off to school, she headed to work as well.

“My sisters and I had long days at school with both secular and Jewish studies. In addition, my parents dedicated their time and talents to volunteering in our community. My sisters and I participated in Jewish youth groups and after-school activities,” Yael says. “Our lives were blessedly wonderful — and hectic.”

All that activity, however, came to a complete halt on Friday evening at sundown.

Once the Shabbat candles are lit and the Sabbath is ushered in, no one checks emails, answers a phone, turns on the TV or a computer, or gets in a car to go anywhere. “We are simply present — with each other and with God,” says Yael. “I don’t know a single family who would not benefit from that.”

The Sabbath is a time for gathering as a family to share with each other how the week went, to discuss the Torah lesson from synagogue, to stop and pause and recognize God as our King, and to focus on what truly matters.

Shabbat gives us permission to let go of worries and to fill our souls with godliness,” Yael explains. “Around the Shabbat table, we are unbound by the constraints of the workweek and have all the time in the world to focus on God and on each other.”

As Yael says, “I do not know what kind of world my children will live in when they are adults. Maybe it will be even more saturated with modern distractions and an even more fast-paced life, or perhaps they will live more moderately-paced lives. However what I do know is that no matter what life has in store for them, they will always have Shabbat. They will always have that refuge, that ‘island of time,’ to rest, recalibrate, prioritize, and as a result, live meaningful godly lives.”

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