Rabbi Robert Schur (z’’l) of Fort Worth, Texas, used to tell his students at the end of every year of religious school that the summer was good for three things: Take a long walk, read a good book and make a new friend.
It was a simple yet important reminder that each of us as Jews can use the upcoming summer months to recommit to that which is important in our lives.
- Take a long walk. Find time for that which is important. The slower months of the summer, with their beautiful (if a bit warm) weather, urge us to reconnect with the outside and reconnect with our surroundings.
Take time in nature, examining and exploring the beauty that surrounds us each day. To be frank, this is Rabbi Schur’s way of telling each of us to stop and smell the roses, if in a more athletic way.
- Read a good book. It is great advice for any time of year, but especially as we begin the summer months with Shavuot, for we all have the opportunity to read and study from the Torah. There is a tradition of holding a tikkun leil Shavuot to study Torah all night (or at least really late) on the first night of Shavuot to make up for, what the midrash tells us, the many Israelites who fell asleep when the Torah was given.
We at Congregation Dor Tamid have partnered with the other Reform congregation in North Fulton County and will have a tikkun at Temple Emanu-El on Saturday, May 19, beginning with dairy desserts at 6 p.m.
Take the opportunity that Shavuot gives us to read a good book, whether with us or at another tikkun around the Atlanta area (see the listings on here).
- Make a new friend. This piece of advice, especially given to students about to go away for the summer but really for each of us, is truly a gift and can be connected to the other two.
While reconnecting with our environment, while diving into the sacred words of Torah, we have the ability to meet others and create long-lasting relationships. These friendships, created over shared experiences, can help enrich our lives as we come back from the summer to the new year next fall.
Take a long walk, read a good book and make a new friend. These three pieces of advice enable us to reconnect, take stock in what is important, and enrich our lives through our relationships to knowledge, nature and each other.
Rabbi Jordan M. Ottenstein is the senior rabbi of Congregation Dor Tamid in Johns Creek.