Graduation 2015: A [Jewish] Family Affair

This graduation season, my family is celebrating not one, not two, but three graduations.

Our oldest, Alana, graduated from Indiana University. Our middle child, Jacob, graduated from high school. And our youngest, Eric, completed his middle school career.

alanaOver the past few weeks, I have had many moving “graduation moments.” I listened to beautiful symphonic music as thousands of graduates grandly processed into the Indiana University football stadium. I listened to “Pomp and Circumstance” as 316 high school seniors marched two by two into their graduation ceremony. (And although there was no official middle school graduation for Eric – I have proof of his report card: he’s an official high school freshman!)

At the two graduation ceremonies, I listened to two outstanding commencement addresses: one by Sage Steele, Indiana alum, female sportscaster and co-host of ESPN’s NBA Countdown; the other by Marshall Ramsay, a Mississippi artist whose editorial cartoons are syndicated nationally. Both shared inspiring personal stories of facing adversity and challenges, and staying focused on achievements and priorities.

Jacob, the high school grad

Jacob, the high school grad

As a mom, I kvelled throughout commencement, so proud of each my children’s achievements, of their efforts and successes… but then I shifted from glowing about all of the graduations to also wondering: as my children move from these commencements and “commence” the next steps in their lives – are they truly prepared to go out and make their way in the world?

Or, more simply in “mom speak”: Have I done a good job getting them ready to be out there, on their own?

My kids can do their laundry, they know how to balance their checking account, and all three of them can cook the basics. They are ready to be good citizens. But how well have we prepared them, Jewishly? When they are on their own, no longer going because my husband and I are taking them – will they seek out the local synagogue? Attend high holiday services? Participate in their Jewish communities?