2021 Rabbi Isaac Mayefsky Memorial Lecture

Close to 200 parents and teachers of school-age children joined the Associated Talmud Torahs on Motzaei Shabbos, December 11, 2021, to attend the 35th Annual Rabbi Isaac Mayefsky Memorial Lecture.  This annual parenting program featured the captivating speaker and educator, Rabbi Jonathan Rietti.

The presentation, Raising Resilient Children in a Confusing World, focused on strategies for effective parenting. Rabbi Rietti provided many practical suggestions to help parents and teachers as they teach children how to bounce back when faced with adversity. He presented the following ideas:

Children are created B’Tzelem Elokim and from conception, they have been endowed with unbelievable growth powers as they develop into adulthood. Children and “successful” adults are inherently resilient – no matter how often they fall, they try again and again and again.

Life is experienced in one’s brain. The world happens through us – not to us. Thus, thought is extremely powerful. Even our emotions are impacted by our thoughts. Humans “feel” their thoughts.

What are some thoughts/strategies that help us build resilience?

—– The sun is always shining – even when it is a cloudy day. A trip in an airplane above the clouds proves that.

—– When the mind is cluttered with concerns, one cannot see with clarity. A snow globe is a perfect example of this. Try to let the “snow” settle and consider your next thought.

—– The media manipulates the minds of adults and children and entices both to be “free” when really, the encouragement is to be out of self-control. True freedom is being in control of one’s life.

—– Smartphones and social media always present the option to explore or ignore what is being projected. You can choose to ignore.

—– You can’t stop thinking but you can always control the next thought. You are born with a filter – your mind – and you are always one thought away from changing your mind. You cannot have two thoughts simultaneously.

  • Negative thoughts are draining.
  • Letting go of negativity allows one to start again.
  • Pick out the weeds of your thought garden so that the positivity is not overtaken by the negativity.

—– Bad news gets our attention because it’s news. Focus, instead, on the good news that happens daily. Resilience = paying attention to G-d’s reality.

—– We are role models for our children.

  • Influence your children by staying in control when faced with adversity.
  • V’Shenantam L’Vanecha – “chew” (from the root of the word for tooth – shein) and savor the taste of what you experience in front of your children. How you live through challenges in front of your children will make an impression on them.
  • V’Dibarta Bam – It is never too late to build a relationship with our children. Speak with them – ask them questions. Keep the dialogue open and bring out the resilience that is innate to them as humans. The most powerful place to do this is face to face in the home environment. Do so with simcha and passion.

—– G-d has a plan for us – our history proves this. Though we have suffered many calamities as Jews, we are still here, and this proves the resilience that we have from birth.

This lecture is part of the ATT’s expanded program designed to address the challenges of creative teaching and rewarding parenting.   Over the years, it has become an excellent resource for parents and teachers of children of all ages.   

Rabbi Isaac Mayefsky was a gifted educator who, in the course of more than 40 years of communal service, developed many key programs within the Associated Talmud Torahs, including the Russian Transitional Program and the Dr. Oscar A. & Bernice Novick PTACH Special Education Program.