As COVID-19 continues to affect various communities, it's important that we all do our part by being a mensch. Whether that's helping grocery shop for a homebound neighbor, dropping kindness rocks on your walk through the neighborhood, or leaving water bottles for delivery drivers, there are many small actions that kids and families can do every day to make a difference in the world around them. One very easy mitzvah that you can do as a family is wearing face masks when you're outside of your home.
Related: Is Social Distancing a Jewish Value?
Of all of the many mitzvot ("commandments" in Hebrew) in Judaism, there is one that is deemed so important that it comes before all others. This most important mitzvah is called pikuach nefesh, saving a life. And it's one that you can practice with your family every time you remember to wear your mask.
Wearing masks is one of the most effective and important steps we can take towards keeping ourselves and others healthy in the midst of this pandemic. According to the Center for DIsease Control and Prevention (CDC), mask wearing greatly reduces the rate of spread of Covid-19 and other airborne viruses. Although some kids (and adults too) have a hard time wearing a mask, once you get used to it, mask wearing can actually be a lot of fun -- just think of yourself as an everyday superhero as you run your errands.
Here are some ways to help your child feel at ease wearing a mask:
Give Kids Options
If you're able to make your own "DIY" masks, bring kids in on the process -- let them help choose fabric, ties, or embellishments. If you're buying a mask, look over the options online with your kids and let them pick out what they'd like. If you know a local mask maker well, see if your kids can video chat with them to help pick the materials for a mask.
Model Your Mask
Young children love to be just like Mom, Dad, Bubbeh, or cool Uncle Will. So sport your mask with pride. If you can show kids that it's easy (and fun) to do, they'll follow suit.
Incorporate Mask Wearing Into Playtime
Kids learn through play. Making masks for favorite dolls and toys can help your little ones feel more comfortable wearing their own. (There are several easy tutorials online if you need some inspiration.)
Make Masks Your "Mitzvah of the Day"
As mentioned above, putting on a mask is a great way to introduce your children to the concept of a mitzvah, or mitzvot. You can even add "wearing a mask" to your very own "Mitzvah-a-Day" chart.
Say a Blessing
We love this blessing by Rabbi Michael Knopf. You can read more about it in this article in The Forward.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְ‑יָ אֱ‑לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל שְּׁמִירַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam, asher keed’shanu b’meetzvotav, v’tzeevanu al sh’meerat ha-nefesh.
"You are bountiful, Infinite our God, majesty of space and time, who has sanctified us with divine commandments and has commanded us about protecting life."
Different Families, Different Rules: How to Talk to Your Kids About Your Social Distancing Practices
PJ Library Resources for Quarantined Families
What is a Mitzvah?
About the Author
Carla Naumburg, PhD, LICSW is a clinical social worker, writer, and speaker. She is the author of three parenting books: Ready, Set, Breathe: Practicing Mindfulness with Your Children for Fewer Meltdowns and a More Peaceful Family (New Harbinger, 2015) and Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters (Parallax, 2014), and the bestselling How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids (Workman, 2019). Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and Mindful Magazine, among other places. Carla lives outside of Boston with her husband, two young daughters, and two totally insane cats.
July 9, 2020