Who Is That Child? And why is his name Israel?

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...Rabbi Simcha Bunem of Pshische, one of the illustrious rabbis of the nineteenth century, once turned to his disciples and asked: “Who is that child? Where is that child? One day, once and for all, I’d like to meet that mysterious, elusive child everyone keeps talking about!”

The disciples were bewildered by the strangeness of the question. The Rabbi explained, “Almost any parent you meet will invariably say, ‘I have to do right by my child. For the sake of my child, I must work hard, make this or that sacrifice to provide him with the best education, the best opportunities, the best upbringing’

“That child grows up and, sure enough, he goes on to say the very same thing! ‘I must do it for the sake of my child.’ That one grows up – ‘I have to do it for my child!’ And so, it keeps going and going.”

So Reb Simcha Bunem asks: “Once and for all, where is that ultimate child that everybody has been working towards and investing in for hundreds of generations and thousands of years? At long last, pray tell: Who is that child?!”

That story has always seemed to me more profound than many learned volumes on child rearing. Who is that ultimate child? Why of course, it’s you. It’s me. It’s your child. It’s my child. It’s your grandchildren and my grandchildren. We are those ultimate children...

...Today, the great question in Jewish life, in the study groups, symposia, and committees is: Why are so many young Jews disengaging from Judaism?

The answer can be summarized simply. When young Jews disengage from Judaism what they are rejecting is not Judaism itself, but largely a caricature of Judaism based upon simplistic tales and sound bites.

Many young Jews are given a Jewish education equivalent to something between second and eighth grade level, and then they are expected to compare this understanding of “Judaism” with a sophisticated, university secular education. This is an immensely unfair and uneven contest. No wonder Judaism loses so often...

This is not just a simple problem, but a crisis of Biblical proportion, which the Lubavitcher Rebbe repeatedly sought to address by making “Mivtza Chinuch”, the Education Initiative, a centerpiece of his global Ten Point Mitzvah Campaign for Jewish outreach and revival.  To better understand how this issue goes to the very core of our identity and destiny, let us return to the source. There is a mystery surrounding...

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