The Jewish people love to ask questions! If you were at Upton Hills pool on Sunday, August 5, you would have learned “What’s Jewish About Swimming?” There were approximately 25 people at the event.
To start the conversation, we turned to a classic Jewish text. The Talmud, in Tractate Kiddushin 29a, enumerates a list of obligations parents have to their children. These include teaching them Torah, helping them find a suitable spouse, and preparing them for future employment. At the end of the list of obligations, Kiddushin 29a states: “And there are some who say that [parents] must also teach [their children] how to swim.”
We asked the children why it would be important to learn how to swim. One said it would be important because it would help you if you had to travel to new places. The Jews are a wandering people and have settled in many new places so this response was right on target. Another child said it was important to know how to swim so you wouldn’t drown.
The adults surmised that the metaphor of swimming means we are obligated to teach our children skills that will allow them to survive independently of our help when the need arises. Our children need to build confidence, physical fitness, and be willing to take risks. Our job as parents is to support and encourage them. In this context, teaching children how to swim is a metaphor for launching them on a successful path to Jewish adulthood.
Although our actual swim time was cut short by heavy rains, we enjoyed our time together learning and building community. We look forward to more “What’s Jewish About . . . ” events over the course of the school year!
Thank you to Alexis Joyce for planning the program and the craft and Naomi Harris and Stacey Viera for helping with publicity.
Upcoming event: What’s Jewish about Bubbies? on November 18, 2018