What Does it Mean to Be Proud of My Jewish Identity?


How am I teaching my children?

Heidi Topaz and Melissa Goldmeier, Community Connectors for the Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE), were asked about their Jewish identity, and how they are passing on these values to their children. 

Melissa Goldmeier, Downtown Community Connector.  

What does it mean to you to be proud of your Jewish identity? 

Being Jewish is an essential part of who I am.  I am proud to be Jewish because our religion and culture teach us to remember our roots and the roads we’ve traveled.  We bring the past to the present and allow it to guide our future.  Judaism places a strong emphasis on questioning and learning – we are taught to challenge widely held beliefs until we can make them our own.  Judaism teaches us to see and treat every person as a human being, because we are all created in God’s image.  I know that I am here for my community, and that my community is here for me. 

How are you teaching these values to your children? 

Judaism requires us to teach the Shema — a core declaration of faith — to our children.  My family makes those ancient words come alive by organizing and participating in the Connector program. Through the program, we have celebrated milestones together, prayed together, mourned together and learned together. By exposing my children to a Jewish community at a young age, I am confident that they will be imbued with a love of Jewish culture and identity and will work to further the central mission of Tikkun Olam.  

Heidi Topaz, Pikesville Community Connector 

What does it mean to you to be proud of your Jewish identity? 

Being proud of my Jewish identity has taken on great importance as I raise my family, both in my home and in the larger community. 

Outside the home, my Jewish identity has taken shape through my involvement with The Associated. I recently became a CJE Connector, which has given me the opportunity to meet so many new families. It has been so fulfilling to see everyone come together for fun events that are rooted in Judaism. I have also had the opportunity to join JPW (Jewish Professional Women), where I can expand my professional network. 

How are you teaching these values to your children? 

In our home, my husband and I find meaning in existing holiday traditions from both of our families, while also creating new traditions of our own. We also try to teach our sons the importance of giving back, and we have found some wonderful activities to do together through JVC (Jewish Volunteer Connection), such as Bunches of Lunches and making fleece blankets. These programs allow us to have a dialogue with our children about mitzvot, which we hope will carry with them as they grow. 

I hope that the examples I set for my children, both in and out of our home, will help build a foundation for their Jewish identities as well. 


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