Passing on Our Faith
Yael Eckstein | September 20, 2022
I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God but also with those who are not here today. —Deuteronomy 29:14-15
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Nitzavim, which means “standing,” from Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20.
Renowned Christian preacher Billy Graham once said, “The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” In Judaism, we refer to this as l’dor v’dor, which literally means “from generation to generation.”
We pass down our faith to the next generation not just through formal religious training, but through the holy observances, the rituals, and the traditions that happen within the life of the family.
When I look back on the history of my people, and even my own family, I cannot help but wonder. How did we, as a people, survive? One answer, of course, is that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has always protected and guarded the apple of His eye, Israel. The other answer can be found in the steadfast commitment in Judaism to passing on our faith to the next generation, what has come to be known as l’dor v’dor, “from generation to generation.”
Passing on Our Faith
We see the importance of passing on our faith to future generations in this week’s Torah portion. We read, “I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God but also with those who are not here today.”
Standing on the banks of the Jordan River, getting ready to enter the Promised Land, the people of Israel renewed their covenant with God. But here in this verse, Moses made a point of telling the people that this covenant was not only about them. This covenant would bind the generations that would follow them as well.
When we enter into a covenant with God, we commit ourselves to pass that covenant on to our children and grandchildren, from generation to generation. As a mother of teenagers, I know this can be challenging. But we must always remember that that our own relationship to God must include a commitment to educating the young, to making sure that the life of faith we lead is understood and meaningful to them as well as to us.
Want to learn more about these Jewish practices of passing on our faith? Check out my book, Generation to Generation.