As Gershwin wrote, Summer time and the Livin’ is easy… For many of us, summer often feels more relaxed than the rest of the year – maybe the longer days just give us a sense of more breathing space.
Summer is a great time to explore and expand your Jewish knowledge, identity, expression, and, for the lack of a better word, spirituality. Why not take the summer to do something new, to learn something new, to think about something new?
I’d like to offer a mixed bag of activities for your consideration. Don’t feel limited by my list – it may look exhaustive, but it’s not.
– If you’ve never read the TaNaKh, the Jewish Bible, why not start now? A good place to start is with the weekly Torah reading (see the Temple calendar for the name of the parashah and chapters/verses).
– Buy a TaNaKh (Hebrew Bible) and/or a Torah commentary such as The
Torah: A Modern Commentary by Plaut or The Women’s Commentary (both are published by URJ Press).
– Sign up for the URJ’s 10 Minutes of Torah a Day www.urj.org/learning/Torah/ten. You have a choice of receiving 1-page emails
(M-F) on Torah Study, Israel Connections, Liturgy, WRJ Centennial, and Jewish
World & Social Action.
– Read Abraham Heschel’s The Sabbath.
– Really take notice of the 25 hours of Shabbat and make them special in some way.
– Try doing Havdalah with family or friends outdoors. The Gates of Shabbat (CCAR Press) has the blessings, nice readings, and the music.
Art, Literature & Film
– Read works by Israeli writers and poets, such as Amos Oz, David Grossman, Meir Shalev, A.B. Yehoshua, and Yehuda Amichai.
– Read a book by a North American author, such as Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Elie Wiesel, Chaim Potok, Michael Chabon, Steve Stern.
– Visit a Jewish Museum.
– Rent or see movies with Jewish themes.
Music & Dance
– Learn Israeli Folkdance.
– Discover the variety of Jewish music: Bernstein, Copland, Milhaud, Mahler, Philip Glass, Schoenberg, Kurt Weill, Salomone Rossi; Gershwin, Irving Berlin, John Zorn; Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers, Steven Sondheim; Sephardic, Ladino, Klezmer and Yiddish; and Israeli (Ofra Haza, Noa, David Broza, Boaz Sharabi).
– Try old and new recipes from around the Jewish world in books such as those by Joan Nathan, Claudia Roden, Tina Wasserman, and Joyce Goldstein.
– Peruse the myriad of books on Jewish spirituality and expression at www.JewishLights.com and find something that fits you or stretches you.
– Visit a mikvah (the Reform mikvah is at the North Campus of Leo Baeck Day School)
– Donate – or volunteer your time — to a food bank, a women’s shelter, or a charity/cause of your choice.
– Make it a point to purchase free-trade coffee and cottage-industry crafts.