A Mensch in the Making

I broke my son’s leg. Okay, I didn’t actually break it, but because of me he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the result is crutches and a hard cast he gets to wear for several weeks. The kid should be pissed.
The “incident” happened during the last weeks of summer vacation, fall baseball about to start, and right at the beginning of a week long vacation in New York.
But the crazy thing is, he’s not pissed. In fact, he’s as happy and positive and full of energy as he always is. While I wallow in guilt, I’m suspecting he is going out of his way to make sure I don’t feel guilty about what happened. He won’t complain. When we went to the beach and he couldn’t go in the water, when we went to Manhattan and walked around a lot, no matter what we did, and how much the cast slowed down or prevented his activities, he was always happy and in the moment.
The kid is a mensch. And, he’s polite, sweet, smart, athletic, funny, and outgoing.
But this isn’t a post to brag about my son. It’s a post to explore what has led to this mensch in the making.
Of course there is a combination of factors that has made him the boy he is today. I’d like to think his parents and their biologically perfect genes should get some credit. There’s also his documented high IQ, his classification as a crystal child/star child (if you are in to that line of thinking), and maybe lack of exposure to some of the big problems in this world. And it’s not like he’s had it that easy, interrupting his blissful childhood is some meshugas too. He’s dealing with divorcing parents, a chronically ill parent, the constant control and patrol of an older sister, and adherence to a difficult alternative diet that prevents him from eating a lot of foods.
Somewhere in that equation, though, must be his Jewish upbringing.
I have to believe four years at the local Jewish Day School preceded by a few years at the JCC pre-school plus the occasional family Shabbat dinner at grandmas is part of the formula that is creating this truly good person.
First, his school. I’m a fan of the day school (Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School), I have been since the day my daughter started there six years ago (I could write another post on what an amazing girl she has become). Their curriculum, teachers, facilities, and families has created an atmosphere that in turn helps create these mature, grounded, wordly, and respectful children.
And then there’s Shabbat dinners. When my children were born, my mom made a point to have occasional Shabbat dinners with family be a part of their lives. It was important to her, and she strongly believes it’s an important part of a Jewish upbringing. I now can say she’s right, there is something to a simple meal, a few prayers, and a song or two that reinforces the importance of family in a way few other activities can.
The result of this Jewish upbringing isn’t just a couple amazing Kapel Kids, it’s a whole litter of smart, caring, talented children crawling all around the school. I can honestly say my Jewish friends and I aren’t this good, this smart, this caring (no offense).

It’s like that school is creating a super race of young Jews, mensches, with high intelligence and higher morals.

I just hope my children and the rest of the kids at the day school use their power for good and not evil, because these kids got the tools to succeed in business, life, love, whatever they want.
As evident by my son’s broken leg and they way he has handled it, I’d comfortably say that the next generation of Jews is going to do well, and will make the world a better place through their to attitude, philanthropy, and success.