Federation and PJ Library are highlighting ideas to get you through a summer like no other. It is a true paradox that there is both “nothing to do” and too much out there to sort through. We are here to help! Here are some summer family activities, along with the Jewish values that inspire each one.
Judaism values many things, but one of the most important is time. While this can mean marking the holidays yearly and Shabbat weekly, it can also mean making family time sacred—without the interruptions of work, school, electronics, and other distractions. Summer can be a great time to relax and “reJEWvenate” as a family.
Here are explanations for some of the other Jewish values encouraged in the summer-at-home activities
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.
Shehecheyanu (“prayer of gratitude”): 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”).
Ta’am Hachayim (“appreciating life’s many flavors”): Ta’am Hachayim is an Israeli phrase meaning “taste of life,” signifying the pleasure to be had in enjoying different foods. Kashrut (“kosher”) as an eating ethic can also promote mindful and healthy eating.
Tisha B’Av (“the 15th of the month of Av”): This is an annual, solemn day that commemorates many Jewish tragedies, including the destruction of the first and second 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.