Sibling Get-together

Dear Rabbi and Mrs. Lapin,

As an avid reader and listener of your books, podcasts, TCT shows, and audio products, I feel that I have gained much from my exposure to ancient Jewish wisdom and am blessed to have come across you. I am currently facing a dilemma involving my family.

My siblings (all grown with families) have invited me to spend several days together with them reliving our childhood and enjoying one another’s company. As you can imagine, I would love to be there and to spend time with siblings I rarely get to see, and can’t imagine what joy this would bring our parents to see us together. But I’m hesitant to leave my husband and our five children.

My spouse and I do everything together, avoid being apart whenever possible, and have prioritized our marriage and family above all. In addition, our children are home with us and not in GICs, and they would miss out on several days of education.

While my husband is supportive of the idea, I’m concerned that this may be harder on him than he expects. I feel that this decision pits two important values against each other and am unsure which should take priority in this situation.

Eager and grateful for your advice, God bless,


Dear Arianna,

If this was a court case and we were judges, we would have to recuse ourselves. We just came back from one night’s dinner at our grown-up children’s sibling camp, and we are flying high. Our seven children, without their own spouses or children (an exception was made for a two-week-old newborn) got together from Sunday to Wednesday. Pulling this together for all seven siblings involved extensive travel, both domestic and international. It meant, for some, missing out on their children’s end-of-year school events, not accompanying children on the first day of day camp or to the buses for sleep-away camp, missing work, and leaving spouses as solo parents while juggling their own jobs. It was so difficult to make it work that the first attempt to hold ‘sibling camp’ failed this winter leading to a last-minute cancellation. Fortunately, this one worked.

This getaway at a rental house on the water was an exception. While we have been fortunate to get together for most of our children’s weddings and for one or two other family celebrations, our family does not live close enough to each other to easily pull everyone together. When it happens because of a special occasion, spouses and children are there as well, making for a different experience. At this sibling camp, everyone could sit around the table for hours, hike and kayak together, reminisce, and laugh. They could concentrate on each other. We treasured our invite for one night’s dinner, but the focus was on siblings. This never happened before, and it might not ever be repeated — but cementing that family identity was incredibly meaningful. Yes, everyone’s main priority is to their own spouse and children. Yet, having these siblings in their lives and standing with them is a vital part of who they are.

So, we are not objective, Arianna, not in the slightest. Nonetheless, we will try. Let’s look at your stated concerns.

1)“[the children] would miss out on several days of education.” As past homeschoolers ourselves, we would like to rephrase this. Your children will miss out on a few days of routine education. Yet, being able to go beyond the routine is one of the reasons we, and perhaps you, homeschool. Teaching about the value of siblings to your five children? That is a worthwhile lesson. We are sure that you can leave many activities and ideas for your children. They will have time to do things that might get lost in your usual schedule. We doubt that they will be sitting on the couch watching TV while you are gone.

2) “While my husband is supportive of the idea, I’m concerned that this may be harder on him than he expects.” Arianna, when I (Susan) accompanied a friend when she was giving birth, my husband’s lunch offering to our children was potato chips and soda. Not my standard fare. They survived. If he had been in charge for a longer period, he would have worked out better choices.

It is wonderful that you and your husband do so much together. It is also valuable for your children to have time with each of you separately. It also would be valuable for you to give your husband this vote of confidence as well as allow him (and the children) to give you this gift of time.

You are correct that your own family and your birth family are two competing pulls on you. If this was a monthly, or even an annual event, our answer would be different. It sounds to us, though, that just as in our own family, the stars are lining up for a unique and special opportunity. We don’t think you will regret grabbing it.

Send pics!

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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America’s Real War

In America’s Real War, Rabbi Daniel Lapin argues that the real chasm in American culture is not between blacks and whites, rich and poor, men and women, or Jews and Christians.
The real divide is between those Americans who believe that Judeo-Christian Bible-based values are vital for our nation’s survival and those Americans who believe that these timeless truths obstruct progress.

$15 Paperback/ $10 Ebook

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