More than halfway into the Hebrew school calendar, Maxon is very clear how he feels about it: He hates it (quel surprise), it's boring, and he really wants to learn Hebrew but isn't learning it – or anything else.
Now, I have a midterm report card that paints a slightly different picture, but still. My feelings about Hebrew school are more conflicted. When Maxon gets closer to his Bar Mitzvah, we will have to pay extra for tutoring at the synagogue regardless, so why not just get a tutor now, reclaim our weekends and be done with Hebrew school?
In all these weeks, I have been unable to fully commit to either path: Hebrew school or lone tutor. I know my husband would prefer the tutor route. But I can't decide what course would best benefit our disgruntled young Jewish scholar. What would be more enriching? Easier for all of us? More cost-efficient?
So I haven't made a decision.
I recently went on a ski weekend with some girlfriends. One woman's daughter is having a Bat Mitzvah soon, which we discussed briefly. ("We're just doing a brunch," she says, when asked about the planning stress. "They're getting one meal. And it won't be the best one they've ever had.")
We segued into a discussion about Hebrew school in general. One of my friends has a daughter who loves it, looks forwad to it, and hates being late and missing Hebrew. What bliss that must be.
I brought up Maxon's complaints, my conflicted feelings, the costs and the potential benefits of dropping it altogether. The friend whose daughter is about to have her Bat Mitzvah gave me this response:
"Yeah, it's a pain. Yeah, they hate it. But I think there is something important about being with Jewish kids, studying with other Jewish kids, making a community with them. And he is learning something, whether he knows it or not."
Her words stuck with me as we moved on from Hebrew school talk to more drinking. Perhaps I expect too much from Hebrew school — or maybe I expect the wrong things. Hebrew school doesn't have to be this transformative experience. It doesn't have to be any better or worse than my experience. All it has to be is what it is – Hebrew school. Boring, a pain, and necessary.