Betting on Jewish Early Childhood Education, Redeeming Our World

By Anna Hartman

“The voice of children learning (tinokot shel beit rabban) preserves the world;
through these children, the world is saved.”
Zohar, introduction, with parallel messages in Talmud Shabbat 119b

The rabbis of the Talmud understood something about the magic of childhood. The fate of the world, they said, rests on the existence of children and their learning.

The wonder of this learning is something adults lose sight of most of the time. For parents of young children, the constant struggles to earn a living and care for our families leaves little time to marvel.

Recently I spent a morning with my toddler daughter Libby at the Chicago Botanical Garden. After an hour of exploring the beautiful flowers and avoiding the various puddles the day’s rain had left behind, I unbuckled Libby from her stroller and let her roam. Sure enough, Libby immediately found what I had been avoiding: PUDDLES! On this rare day with no time constraints, I was able to relax while she visited and revisited each puddle, eventually exploring barefoot and covered in mud.

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