My teenage son plays basketball very well. He plans join the team at an excellent college and hopefully go professional.

I am finding it difficult that my son is focused solely on his basketball future. Everything else is secondary to the sport, including his Judaism.

So what do I do?


By the time a child is in his high teens, no one can tell him what he should or shouldn’t do for religious reasons. That's something every individual needs to develop and nurture for him or herself.

If your son has a passion and a talent for basketball, by all means encourage and support him. Help him become the excellent athlete he wants to be.

In general, when people feel good about themselves, they are willing to look around and see what makes others happy and what is important to their family members.

When the home is infused with Jewish energy, and when Shabbat is a weekly highlight, he will begin to realize that Jewish values and practices are precious to the family, and that his parents are as passionate about their Judaism as he is about basketball.

The more he feels your acceptance, and the more he sees you sharing in his enthusiasm, the more enthusiastic he will be for the things you love.

When he’s warmed up a little, you might like to let him know about Jewish athletes who remained committed to observance of Shabbat and Judaism, such as Solomon Braun, a soccer player at Princeton, and Laetitia Beck, a golf player at Duke. These are just two among many young men and women who have excelled in their sport without compromising their Jewish values. Let his inspiration come from them.

You can't impose your values on him. But you can show him just how dear to you those values are.