Josh and Jeff
We've known Joshua since she was seven years old.  Mac, Ob and I attened her Bat Mitvah and traditional wild middle-school dance after-party yesterday. The text of her father, Jeff's, advice to his daughter at the  observation that a child, his child, is becoming an adult child follows:

Congratulations to the Joshua Rose!

You  may wonder why I sometimes call you THE Joshua Rose.  Actually, I got that from you, when you were a little tot.

I used to make up lots of games for us to play, and you always had fun playing them.  You knew that I made up the games.  Once, after we had been playing a game for a while, you wanted to switch roles.  You said, “Now let ME be the daddy, and YOU be the Joshua Rose.”

Well, part of Jewish culture is being good at the game -- the game, writ large.  (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase, “writ large”!)  Being good at the game means being good at playing by the rules.  So there are a lot of Jewish lawyers, doctors, accountants and so on.

But at the same time, part of Jewish culture is QUESTIONING  the rules.  History shows much Jewish participation in the labor movement, civil rights movement, and other activism for empowerment.

You have had fun questioning the rules, and not just when you were a little tot. You may remember the day that you were TRULY enthusiastic about going to school.  Unfortunately, there has only been ONE such day.  That was the day that you were going to circulate a petition demanding that the school reverse its decision to lengthen the school day. The petition was successful, but your enjoyment came from your participation, before you knew the outcome.

So, in the great tradition of Jewish culture, may the Joshua Rose continue to have fun playing by the rules -- and have even more fun changing them!

Being an adult involves many things, maybe even wild dance parties. Maybe.

Commitment to the common struggle of being human is the most important, however.

Jeff has spent his parenthood stressing this to his daughter in word and example. 
Mazel Tov on a job well done. It is gratifying to see our children grow into true adulthood.

Jeff Schmidt, in addition to being the father of Josh, is a long-time education activist, living in Washington DC. He is the author of Disciplined Minds.

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