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    The parents’ Mah Nishtanah

    According to the Mishnah (P’sachim 10:4), “the son asks his father, but if the son is not knowledgeable, the father instructs him, Mah Nishtanah…” This is not a question but an exclamation: “How different this night is!”

    Hopefully the child will see the specialness of the occasion and the following year he (or she) will exclaim Mah Nishtanah on their own initiative.

    Too many parents leave it to chance or to others to arouse the child’s interest in Judaism. But a child is not going to be enthused by Jewish identity and observance unless the first steps are taken at home, within the family.

    It’s all very well to be an open-minded parent who says, “I’m not going to impose Judaism on my children. When they’re old enough they can make up their own minds.” Who was it who said that some people are so open-minded that their brains fall out?

    Don’t wait too long to introduce your child to Judaism and Judaism to your child. Maybe the child who has had little or no Judaism in early youth will indeed find the way back in adult life. But don’t rely on it. Judaism is your child’s heritage. You rob them of a crucial part of their identity if you fail to open up the richness of that heritage when they are young and impressionable.

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