A Connected Summer by Aviva Meshwork
The final bells have rung; the tattered lunch bags and old water bottles have found their final resting places in the garbage. Textbooks are nowhere to be found. Quite likely when you asked the kids where their pencil cases had gone, (the ones they HAD to have at the beginning of the year), they responded with, “what pencil case?” It seems like so much of the school year necessities had either been well used or swallowed up by the abyss which also claimed the lives of a great many dilapidated binders, chewed up pencils and half sets of markers, pencil crayons and geometry kits. With that final bell the kids came running from the school doors, fast and furious, all set to make the shift from the intense school year to the summer time fun mode of being footloose and fancy free. They are bigger, wiser, more mature (we hope) and embarking on a much-needed break before they do it all over again next September!
The kids aren’t the only ones making way for more unstructured time as we too have accommodated for our houses full of vacationing kids. This requires quite a bit of our own daily re-organization and our regular scheduled programming may not resume until September! While we are emerging from the stronghold of the intense school regiment we still have our usual responsibilities and engagements, but likely to a lesser extent. The summer time allows for more time off, long weekends, summer time blockbusters, vacations, visitors’ days and so on. It’s hard to believe that while we are soaking up the summer time chill, the day will soon come that the very routines we so desperately needed a break from are the exact ones we will be excited to get back to!
And of course there is the inevitable brain drain that our children experience by the end of summer. All that time off of learning often leads them to a review-packed September to make up for it…
But there is another drain that I want to talk about- The Spiritual Drain that we may experience due to our disrupted schedules. Many of you readers out there have been working hard this year towards your goals of getting closer to your Jewish values, and in doing so, have committed to taking on some sort of Jewishly inspired growth. For many of us, Rosh Hashanah was the time that we made the decision to connect more to our Creator, Israel, the Jewish people and/or ourselves. Perhaps you have been reading more Jewish texts, taken some Torah classes, have connected to a mentor and/or worked on strengthening your Jewish community in some way. Now that the summer has arrived, it is quite likely that your weekly Torah classes are on hiatus, your challah baking group is not meeting for now, your Jewish book club is taking a break or your mentor is away at the cottage.
A plea to the hard a work: Don’t let the summer stop your growth!! There are creative ways to introduce other forms of staying connected so that you can carry on furthering your goals and your development. If you are going to the beach and planning on reading something, you could bring along a Jewish book. If you are taking a long car ride to the cottage/visitor’s day / anywhere but here, perhaps you you can listen to a Torah class or play a Jewish story for the kids along the way.
The idea is not to take a vacation from your Judaism and G-d while on summer vacation. You may be on summer routine mode but so what? You don’t need to press pause on growth because of it. Summertime may even be a good time to implement some of that growth.
Just like school will be here before you know it, so too will Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Wouldn’t it be nice to go into the High Holidays this year not having gone through a spiritual drain? Just think about how much better off you will be and feel if you gain rather than drain your spiritual resources over the summer.
The summer is a great opportunity for all of us to reaffirm the commitments we have made to growing Jewishly this year. The scheduling issues should be no match to your commitment and resolve to be more authentic and it may just cause you to be more mindful as you go about your summer time enjoyment!
I wish you all a safe, relaxing, and connected summer!
Aviva Meshwork is an educator, writer, and Trip Director for the JWRP. Originally from Toronto, she now lives in Israel with her husband and children.