Every year during the third weekend of October, religious organizations and denominations around the country observe the annual Children’s Sabbath, which is sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund. Entering its 24th year, the Children’s Sabbath will be taking place from October 16-18, and is a way to unite faith communities around celebrating children, and to renew and live out our shared responsibility to care, protect and advocate for them. Thousands of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other faith communities across the country participate, and the URJ among many other large religious organizations has supported the Children’s Sabbath for many years.
This year, the collective theme of the Children’s Sabbath is “How Long Must I Cry for Help? Bending the Arc toward God’s Vision of Justice for Children”, which seeks to focus on children living in poverty and surrounding issues. Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, has written, “It is a national moral disgrace that there are 14.7 million poor children and 6.5 million extremely poor children in the United States of America.” Throughout the weekend, faith communities will hold worship services, learning sessions and days of action centered on child poverty.
On a personal note, the Children’s Sabbath and advocating for children is important to me because of work that I did in college with an organization advocating for children in the dependency court and foster care system, many of which live in poverty and face other unfair and unfortunate circumstances. Because the future of our world will be in the hands of today’s children, some of the most important work that we can do now is ensuring that all children are set up for success, which includes finding solutions to child poverty.
Judaism places great emphasis on the sanctity and welfare of children. Our tradition teaches us that, "By the breath of children God sustains the world" (Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 119b). Children, like all human beings, are created in the image of God, and it is our responsibility to give them the resources they need in order to thrive.
If you are interested in observing the Children’s Sabbath, or incorporating related themes into your Shabbat observance, check this guide from the Children’s Defense Fund. To learn more about our work on Children’s Issues, visit our page, and to learn more about child poverty, read this Children’s Defense Fund report.