We’ve all likely heard the cliche, “It takes a village,” more times than we can remember. But like many cliches, there is more than a kernel of truth. Raising young children in today’s world (and in yesterday’s world) does take a village. The problem being that our lives aren’t always set up for building, sustaining and being part of a village.
Maybe you just moved to a new city. Maybe your entire extended family lives in a different time zone. Maybe you’re drowning just to keep up with all the plates that are already spinning. Maybe finding or building a village feels like one more task that you can fail to live up to. Maybe there’s a part of you that knows, deeply, that a village would make life more enjoyable, manageable, and even more meaningful. Listen to that voice!
Judaism, as an ancient wisdom tradition, has long upheld the importance of having a village. For most of Jewish history, Jews literally lived in small villages all around the world. Those villages had their challenges, but also their blessings. Children could roam free because there was always someone paying attention. Everyone in the village knew everyone else. The fate of a single child or family rested not only on that family’s shoulders, but on the village. For thousands of years the Jewish people was strengthened and sustained by this village mindset. It was far from perfect, but it really worked.
We’re not going back to that cloistered way of life. Instead we have the challenge of finding village opportunities right in the midst of our modern, busy, and complicated lives. Fortunately this isn’t as hard as it seems. Just as young families might be seeking a village, there are many villagers eager to greet you, support you, and be part of your village. When meeting a new teacher, when attending a back to school night or pre-school social event, when visiting a doctor’s office or attending a faith based community event-- ask yourself, who in this space might one day become part of your village. Then make an introduction and take the first intentional step in the direction of making it so.