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A local Youth Rabbi presents two easy ways to make your child's next birthday party or special occasion both meaningful and memorable, for the birthday girl and her guests.
Any time we invite a group of people to come together in order to share in a joyous event or a milestone, such as a birthday, it is our responsibility to ensure that they don't just leave having had a good time and with a belly full of good food, but also having experienced something that is going to make them better people, inspired to live better lives. Certainly a birthday party must be fun, have yummy cake, and goodie bags, and there is nothing at all wrong with holding your party at a children's entertainment facility. The key is to incorporate meaning as well.
First, when all the children are sitting down, either to eat or to do a project, pass out a coin to each child and pass around a charity box so everyone can give their coin charity. You can briefly explain that by giving charity we are sharing our joy with those less fortunate than we are.
Next, when the children are eating, ask them to be quiet for a moment and your child can share a small life lesson and resolution that they have prepared in advance. It can be something simple and concise such as, "It is important to be nice to one another. There are many ways we can do this in our everyday life. In honor of my birthday, I have decided that from now on I am going to be more patient with my little sisters when they ask to join in what I am playing."
-Rabbi Ilan Weinberg, Hebrew School principal and camp director at the Chabad of Port Washington; he has nearly two decades of experience as a Youth Rabbi
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