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Family Matters with Rabbi Shmuley

June 11, 2010 by  
Filed under lifestyle


Rabbi ShmuleyFamily dinners are integral for the healthy and positive growth of all family members, most importantly for children, argues Rabbi Shmuley, founder of the non-profit organization Friday Night is Family Night (TFNFN) and This World: The Jewish Values Network.

With this initiative, Rabbi Shmuley is spreading Jewish values across North America but the program is not exclusive. “The message of inclusion is a strong part of the program,” he says. “We hope to inspire people nationwide to come together to embrace their family and spend quality time together irrespective of race, creed, colour, religion, sexual orientation or marital status.” Rabbi Shmuley recently visited the Vatican and garnered Pope Benedict XIV’s support for the TFNFN project.

Rabbi Shmuley clearly knows the power of celebrity and has managed to gain many endorsements for his cause. He also knows that celebrity families such as the Gosselin family (Jon & Kate Plus 8) struggle with the same issues. To help Jon Gosselin spread TFNFN’s values, as well as to discuss “The Ethical Challenges and Moral Responsibilities of Celebrity,” Rabbi Shmuley counselled him through his public divorce. “Having celebrities like [Gosselin], Oprah, Rachel Hunter, Kathie Lee Gifford and many others helps in terms of disseminating [TFNFN’s] powerful message to more and more families,” Rabbi Shmuley says.

Rabbi Shmuley also draws from university case studies to stress the importance of family dinners for his 2008 flagship article, “Turn Friday Night into Family Night.” He’s also written his 24th book called Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life. In his 2008 article he wrote: “Studies by Columbia University and the University of Minnesota found that teens who do not have regular family dinners are three and a half times more likely to abuse drugs.” He also wrote “that teenagers who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to smoke daily and get drunk monthly [and] girls who have regular family dinners with their parents are one-third less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits like anorexia.”

To help families come together, Rabbi Shmuley’s TFNFN initiative uses a 2/2/2 theme: two hours of family dinner, with two friends as guests and two subjects to discuss. “The theme represents two hours of uninterrupted time with no distractions of cell phones, TV or any other disruptions, encouraging parents to give their children one night a week where they are focused on them,” he says. “Especially with the advent of media at our fingertips, it takes more of a conscious effort to focus on our families; we need to make sure we make quality family time a priority.”


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