The African proverb, It takes a village to raise a child rang so true for me last night.
Our family attended the 48th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Observance in the village of Skokie. The service rotates locations each year and last night was held at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. Nestled in our pews, we sang songs, prayed silently and responsively, were lifted up by the beautiful music of the Skokie Concert Choir, and listened to readings and reflections from clergy from several Skokie faith communities including the Sikh Temple, Evanshire Presbyterian Church, St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church, an Imam from MCC Academy, and our very own Rabbi Jeffrey Weill.
We have been to the service many times over the years. Last year, the kids balked. We left them at home and decided to enjoy the evening without an argument. My husband and I immediately regretted the decision. Never again, I said. This is an annual family tradition.
A few hours before the service the complaining started. The teenagers were home from school, and the prospect of attending a religious service did not sound to them like a fun way to start their Thanksgiving break. Thirteen-year-old girl didn’t put up much resistance, but fifteen-year-old boy was a different story. It wasn’t pleasant. I almost caved in, but in the end, I stood firm. The service is an annual family tradition.
And so we went. It was lovely. It was fun to see many friends from our synagogue. One of them showered praise on fifteen-year-old boy. It’s so nice that you came, she said. You being here means a lot to all of us, including Rabbi Weill, our synagogue, and the whole Skokie community. You’re going to remember this always, and I hope you remember it fondly. Thank you for coming.
Carlos* grinned from ear to ear telling me what she said to him. He said she sounded just like me. That certainly made my day. She is part of my village and doing her part to raise this child. She took the initiative to address him directly and show him how he fits in a bigger world. She was thoughtful and kind. I am grateful.
I asked Carlos what he thought about the service. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be was his answer. High praise. Cue the Hallelujah chorus.
*Name changed to protect the innocent.