Becoming Wise

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

Nurturing Our Children’s Souls

Last Updated

April 29, 2019


Original Air Date

April 29, 2019

A rabbi and parent, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso wants us to think about how we might teach our children’s souls, not just their minds. She says nurturing the spiritual lives of our children is the work of understanding for ourselves “what really matters in life, what’s precious, what’s more important than earning a living and going through our daily routine.”

Guest

Image of Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is rabbi emerita of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis, where she was spiritual leader for 36 years. Her wonderful books for adults and children include God’s Paintbrush and Midrash: Reading the Bible with Question Marks.

Transcript

[music: “Sun Will Set” by Zoë Keating]

Krista Tippett, host: I’ve had hundreds of big conversations, and my conversation partners share wisdom I carry with me wherever I go. Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is a rabbi, a mother, and a grandmother. Speaking with her formed me as a parent.

This is Becoming Wise. I’m Krista Tippett.

Ms. Tippett: I’m curious about what advice you give parents who come to you, the basic question being, “How do I nurture this aspect of my child’s being that I may not understand myself? How do I give them experiences of the sacred?” What do you say?

Ms. Sasso: Well, I say a variety of things. I think it’s important if we’re going to nurture the spiritual lives of our children that we have to nurture our own spiritual lives. So we have to take time in our lives to reflect, perhaps be part of a community that talks about issues of spirituality, to read. We do the same thing when we’re first parents. We’re clueless about what we’re supposed to do.

Ms. Tippett: Right, we do. We read books about how to feed them and …

Ms. Sasso: We read tons of books — how to feed them, how to bring them up, how to get them to sleep, how to potty-train them. We ought to also engage in educating ourselves about our own spiritual lives because it’s very difficult to share with children what you’re thinking if you haven’t been thinking about these issues. So I think, first, we need to nurture our own spiritual lives. And most of what we do in terms of nurturing our children’s spirituality really happens when no one else is looking — meaning, it’s not all planned for. It’s what happens every day. What do you do when you see a homeless person on the street? How do you respond when an animal gets run over on the road, a squirrel, for example? How do we act with other people? All of these are messages to our children about what really matters in life, what’s precious, what’s more important than earning a living and going through our daily routine.

I think society does a very good job in teaching us how to be consumers and a very good job in teaching us how to be competitors. The question I think parents are struggling to answer is, how do we not just teach our children’s minds, but how do we teach their souls? And that’s a much deeper question. I know we want our children to be more than consumers and competitors. We want something much more. We want our children to be gracious and grateful. We want them to have courage in difficult times. We want them to have a sense of joy and purpose. That’s what it means to nurture their spiritual lives.

[music: “Sun Will Set” by Zoë Keating]

Ms. Tippett: Sandy Sasso is rabbi emerita of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis, where she was spiritual leader for 36 years. Her wonderful books for adults and children include God’s Paintbrush and Midrash: Reading the Bible with Question Marks.

Becoming Wise is produced by Marie Sambilay, Lily Percy, and Chris Heagle at On Being Studios, which is located on Dakota Land. And our theme music is provided and composed by Zoë Keating.

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