What's Jewish about summer? Anything can be! It's an opportunity to connect with your family and make time to be together. Try some of these ideas this season!
--Download and print the PJ Library Summer Fun Checklist--
Get the "back story" on the Jewish values. You can also click the values next to each summer fun idea.
- Watch a movie, concert or show outdoors.
- Hang a flag for the 4th of July.
- Open a lemonade stand and donate the money to a favorite charity. (Tzedakah)
- Start a conversation about inclusion. At the beach or at the park, notice what has been done (or can be done) to make them accessible to people with disabilities. Great inclusive parks include Clemyjontri Park and Hadley’s Playground. (B'Yachad)
Take care of your body: use sunscreen, bug spray, helmets and other safety devices. (Beriyut)
- When buying Back 2 School supplies, collect extra to donate to children in need. (Tikkun Olam)
- Make sure that there’s no standing water near your home to breed mosquitoes. (Shomrei Adama)
Go on a scavenger hunt for five things you haven’t seen since last summer.
- Read a PJ Library book outside. (Hineni)
- Hit the “pause” button on screens for a designated amount of time together. (Hineni)
- Go swimming together. (Swimming)
- Make fresh fruit popsicles. (Ta'am Hachayim)
- Ooh and aah while watching fireworks together.
- Stand at the edge of the ocean or a river and appreciate its gifts.
- Pick a bouquet of flowers for your Shabbat table.
- PJ Library Judaism Values Card on "Hiddur Mitzvah"
- Capture the moments in pictures and in words, including reactions and thoughts.
- Watch one sunrise and one sunset.
The “Back Story” on the PJ Library Summer Fun Checklist
Judaism values many things, but one of the highest is valuing time as sacred. While this can mean marking the holidays yearly and Shabbat weekly, it can also mean carving out time as a family that is sacred—without the interruptions of work, school, electronics and other distractions. Summer can be a great time to relax and “reJEWvenate” as a family.
B’yachad (“inclusion”): fully including children with disabilities in play, both physically and socially, improves all children’s social and communication skills, and self-esteem. It also helps children increase their comfort level with differences, acceptance of and respect for others.
Beriyut (“protecting your health”): “We have an obligation to protect the general health of oneself and one’s society.” —Maimonides, rabbi, philosopher & physician
Hineni (“being present”): We live up to our potential when we answer the call to serve with a willingness to be “present” and when we are concerned with people’s need for personal growth, human comfort and human interaction.
Shavuot ("weeks"): This holiday and biblical harvest festival commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Traditions include staying up all night to read the Torah, especially the Book of Ruth, and eating dairy foods.
Shehecheyanu: This blessing gives thanks to God for enabling us to experience a new or special occasion. “Bah-rukh ah-tah Ah-do-nai El-o-hay-nu meh-lekh ha’o-lam sheh-hekh-ye-anu, v’key-ye-mah-nu, v’hig-ee-yah-nu lahz-man hah-zeh,” which means “Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and allowed us to reach this day.”
Shomrei Adama (“caring for the environment”): In Judaism, environmentalism focuses on human beings as having responsibilities to the earth and to animals, including bal tashchit (“not wasting resources in nature”).
Swimming: One of the obligations of parents in the Talmud (rabbinic discussions on Jewish laws and ethics) is to “teach your child to swim.” This can be literal as well as figurative—i.e. how to swim in life, sometimes against the currents.
Ta'am Hachayim (“appreciating life's many flavors”): The Talmud says that when a person faces their Creator at the end of their days, they will be asked, “Did you taste all the fruits of my creation?” Ta’am Hachayim is an Israeli phrase meaning “taste of life,” signifying the pleasure to be had in enjoying different foods.
Tikkun Olam (“repairing the world”): This value is a way of describing the work that each person must do to make the world more just, fair and kind.
Tisha B’Av: This is an annual, solemn day that commemorates many Jewish tragedies, including the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples. Rabbinic commentary points to the social ill of “baseless hatred” that caused social strife and led to the destruction of Jerusalem. In the spirit of tikkun (“repair”), many today use this day to highlight the challenge of, and solutions to, bullying and destructive relationships.
Tu B’Av: This Jewish-Hebrew day of love is particularly popular in modern-day Israel, though its roots go back to ancient times.
Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim (“being sensitive to animals’ needs”): This phrase is the strict prohibition from causing unnecessary pain to animals and to see to their needs first.
Tzedakah: Commonly translated as “charity,” its root is tzedek, or “justice.” The aim of tzedakah is to bring justice or balance.