JCC hosts '5th Commandment Shabbat' for Families


April 19, 2019

In a celebration that stressed the importance of all family structures, The Roth Family Jewish Community Center on April 5 hosted its first-ever 5th Commandment Shabbat for families of its Richard S. Adler Early Childhood Learning Center.

The event was a fusion of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Shabbats and created memories that will be cherished for years to come.

The school, which is participating in the JCC’s national Sheva Center Leadership Institute for Early Childhood Professionals, is focusing on the seven best practices of early childhood seen through seven Jewish philosophies and core values of Judaism. ECLC Director Melissa Youngblood and her staff decided to take the traditional Mother’s and Father’s Day Shabbats and combine them into a special family experience focusing on the Sheva lenses of k’dushah (intentionality and presence) and tzelem elohim (uniquiness).

“We want to be intentional with everything we do,” Youngblood said. “Over the years we have seen a variety of family structures that include a mom and dad, single parents, same-sex parents and grandparents. We all agree that celebrating holidays specifically designed for mothers or fathers does not fall in line with our core value of inclusion. We set out to change that with this new celebration”

In preparation for the special day, teachers discussed the idea of l’dor v’dor (generation to generation), talking with children about who they would like to honor, and how to best honor them.

On the morning of April 5, parents joined their children for a Shabbat celebration on the Maitland campus, where they took time to be present in the moment and created a special experiences together. After the Shabbat services, parents joined their children in the classroom to enjoy a special activity, snacks or lunch with their children.

“We set out to invite parents to be present, put their phones down, put worries out of their minds for an hour, and create sacred time and space with their children,” Youngblood said. “After observing all of these special Shabbats with our infants all the way through to our pre-K students, I can say, with confidence, that we accomplished that mission.”

For more information about the Early Childhood Learning Center, visit http://www.orlandojcc.org/preschool.  For more information about the Sheva program, please contact Melissa Youngblood at melissay@orlandojcc.org.


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