On July 24th 2012, three weeks early and weighing six pounds nine ounces, my daughter Annie Beth Fine came into this world.
Annie knows a few things already that Abba (Daddy in Hebrew) has taught her. Rule #1, she will be a White Sox fan and should never trust a Cubs fans. Rule #2, she cannot date until she is twenty-five years old and then it should be a nice Jewish boy. Rule #3, if she decides that after her full basketball scholarship to a Big Ten school that she does not want to go to medical school, then boy from Rule #2 should be enrolled in or have completed medical school. I am pretty sure Annie is on board with all of these and that her father will continue to dream big for her and try to show her how to be a good person.
But one thing she does not really know yet, is that she is in an elite unit of people known as PKs (Preachers’ Kids).
This is not something I can really teach her about since I am not one. It is also something I cannot really prepare her for since every community she will meet has different interactions with their clergy’s children.
Every synagogue and every rabbi exposes their children differently to Judaism. Some encourage their children to attend Jewish school and Jewish camp while some allow for their children to make these decisions completely on their own.
Some PKs resent their parents for forcing their own Jewish beliefs upon them; while others embrace their father or mother’s lifestyle (four of my classmates from rabbinical school were PKs). I do not know how Annie will react to coming to synagogue on a weekly basis. I am not sure how Annie will react when her father preaches about Kashrut, ethics, or Camp Ramah. I am sure there will be strain on her the first time that she disagrees with something I say from the pulpit. And to be honest, the uncertainty scares me.
I do know this. Annie will be surrounded by Jewish opportunity. She will have access to learn as much as she wants if she so chooses that path. Nothing would bring me greater joy than Annie sitting down in my office and saying “Abba, can you help me with this sugiya (piece of Gemara)?” I will undoubtedly shed a few tears and immediately grab my Talmud from my shelf.
I know that Annie will be given every chance a Jew should have to have a rich Jewish experience. She will visit Israel and bask in its beauty. She will learn Hebrew and understand its poetic nature. And she will experience the tastes and smells of each holiday so that they are familiar to her.
But from there Annie will need to find her own Jewish path. A Jewish path her mother and I hope to guide her on. We will do our best to make sure she hears all points of view, so that when she does choose a Jewish path, she chooses it for the right reason.
Annie is a PK.
She will have a perspective like very few and I hope she and my classmate’s children bond over it in the years to come. But she will have many eyes on her and I hope she stands up to the challenge. I pray that she embraces her unique and special role. Most importantly I hope she knows that there are very few things she could do wrong in this world and being a Cubs fan is the worst of those things.
And Let Us Say…Amen.