HONORING OUR FATHERS AND MOTHERS is an everyday mitzvah. So, what’s particularly Jewish about the third Sunday in June?
EVERYDAY FATHER’S DAY
The fifth commandment tells us clearly we must honor our parents. According to traditional Jewish understanding, this means honoring them not just on one day, but every day. Does this mean Father’s Day is an unnecessary holiday?
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield tries to answer this question (and other related ones) in his New York Jewish Week opinion piece, titled “Father’s Day: It’s a Mitzvah.”
According to Rabbi Hirschfield, Father’s Day presents an opportunity to reconnect with the everyday commandment, along with our parents themselves. He writes:
Our relationships with those commandments, like our relationships with our parents, can themselves become hollow routines that fail to inspire and evoke our best behavior. That’s where the brilliance of Father’s Day comes in … Special days, days like Father’s Day, break routines; they shake up the norms and demand special attention.
HONORING ALL FATHERS
Indeed, Father’s Day offers a special time for parents and children alike to refocus on the fifth commandment. The holiday also offers the opportunity for our community at large to recognize the many forms of fatherhood.
Jesse Bacon is a columnist for the parenting website Kveller. In his piece, “Happy (Separated) Father’s Day,” he points out that while many families today present parenting models that may be “alternative” to traditional models, the parents in those families should be no less appreciated.
On this Fathers’ Day, let us honor the working class men who form the bulk of stay at home dads. Let’s honor the queer dads, who now must not pretend to be straight to become fathers. Let me honor my own dad who confounded rural Wisconsin by rarely being seen without his own children in tow.
With a similar appreciative nod, the Jewish Outreach Program makes it a habit to acknowledge the intermarried families and non-Jewish Dads raising Jewish children.
“We at JOI believe that there are people in our community who are not so readily celebrated by the Jewish community for the acts of goodness they perform every day, particularly those who come from other faith communities and raise Jewish children in the context of an intermarriage,” states the organization in a Father’s Day announcement.
“We take this opportunity, on Father’s Day, to thank all those fathers, regardless of their religion of origin, for raising Jewish children and helping to ensure a bright Jewish future,” the JOI announcement adds.
PJ Library, too, thanks all our PJ Dads. While honoring our parents is an everyday mtzvah, Father’s Day affords us the opportunity to refocus our appreciation. So today, especially, we say, “Thanks!”
June 12, 2012