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The Spiritual Child

By Lillian Hellman, Director Mizel Jewish Community Day School

Psychologist, bestselling author and professor, Lisa Miller, presents the next big idea in psychology: the science and the power of spirituality. In her book: The Spiritual Child: The New Science of Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving, Miller explains the clear, scientific link between spirituality and health. She shows that children who have a positive, active relationship to spirituality are 40% less likely to use and abuse substances, 60% less likely to be depressed as teenagers, and 80% less likely to have dangerous or unprotected sex, and they have an increased sense of meaning and purpose as well as high levels of academic success.

Miller combines research with broad anecdotal evidence from her work as a clinical psychologist to illustrate just how invaluable spirituality is to a child’s mental and physical health. I am proud to share that Mizel JCDS promotes such spirituality on a regular basis. Our beautiful prayer space in the model synagogue on the second floor of The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art is the spiritual core of our values-driven program.

The Bible is brought to life twice a week with discussions on the Torah portion and our students have the opportunity to question, share, lead and participate in the prayers. We cover our eyes for the “Shema” so that we can hear the prayer with our own voice first, while being surrounded by the prayers of others. We say blessings to heal ourselves and our loved ones and even pray for our pets.
Miller says, “Spirituality is an inner sense of relationship to a higher power that is loving and guiding. The word we give to this higher power might be God, nature, spirit, the universe, the creator, or other words that represent a divine presence. The important point is that spirituality encompasses our relationship and dialogue with this higher presence.” This is what we strive for at Mizel.

“Twenty years ago, there were no articles about religion and science and the portrait of health and wellness. In these two decades, a strong body of peer review has been built. We see those who move through the tunnel of darkness and depression, do so entirely differently if they do so with faith in God, than those without,” said Miller.

She emphasizes the need for parents to live not only by example with regard to religious practice and traditions, but to live those examples side-by-side with their children: “Do as I do — as we do together — not only do as I say. Light the Shabbat candles together, prepare meals together, go to synagogue [or church] and celebrate traditions together.”

Miller says that those who are more devout of faith, regardless of what the religion might be, are more likely to be resilient, have greater optimism and live with a greater degree of strength. “With spirituality, identity grows from ideas of meaning and purpose; without it, identity can be dependent on acquiring ‘success.’”

“As parents, we pave the way for our children in their first 20 years and there is no one more important as a spiritual ambassador than the parent. We do lots as parents; we schlep, we coach their sports teams…we have tea parties. Nothing we do will ever be as important as the role we fill as the spiritual ambassador.”

This is exactly the relationship that Mizel aims to cultivate with our students and parents, no matter what their religion. This is what defines Mizel, what separates it from the other schools in our community. Come partner with us.

For more information about our school, visit www.mizelschool.org or call 918.494.0953 for a tour. Enrollment for 3-year olds to 5th grade is open year round.

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