June 20, 2023

Think back to some of your fondest memories of your childhood. Close your eyes if it will help you focus. My guess is that for many of you, it may center around time spent with family or friends, possibly on a trip or a party. Or it could be summer vacation. The time you had no responsibilities… just the freedom to do what you wanted.


Although the temperature and weather do not indicate it… Summer is here. As adults, we don’t “experience” summer like our kids or grandkids do. But for the next two-plus months, the youth will be swimming, spending time with friends, attending summer camp, or possibly, going on a family trip.


Last week I saw many of our community’s youth playing and having a great time as Camp Gan Shalom, Jewish Federation’s summer day camp, began. The joy and smiles they exuded were incredible. For me, it was not so much the activities they were getting to do, like movie making or pottery, but it was knowing that they were fostering friendships and having experiences that were taking place in a Jewish setting. Our camp program focuses on making Judaism a living-breathing experience. In fact, Camp Gan Shalom’s tagline is “where Judaism comes alive.”


I love that our Camp Gan Shalom parents, and others who have enrolled their children in a Jewish summer camp, are choosing for their children to “do Jewish” this summer, no matter for how long they are registered. In many ways, they are showing their children that Judaism is a year-round experience.


 With this in mind, I want to encourage our community to make a conscious choice this summer and do something Jewish. Here are a few ideas that I have come up with that I thought I would share with you:


1. When you are traveling, if a synagogue or Jewish museum is nearby, stop by and check it out. And even better… if you can, attend a Shabbat service or program.


2. Start watching a new Jewish-themed show. A few suggestions include the following:

A Little Light (Disney+) - tells the Anne Frank story from the perspective of the woman who hid her.


Jewish Matchmaking  (Netflix) - Singles in the United States and Israel turn their dating lives over to Jewish matchmaker Aleeza Ben Shalom, pinning their hopes on the traditional practice of shidduch dating.


And, of course, there is also Fauda, Unorthodox, Shtisel, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and many others.


3. Check out a Jewish movie –

           Jews of the Wild West


           Four Winters – A Story of Jewish Partisan Resistance and Bravery in WWII




4. Add a Jewish-themed book to your summer reading list. Click here for a list of recommendations from the Jewish Book Council.


And, of course, many Jewish activities, museums, and experiences are possible in the greater Southern California area as well.


With summer’s official start set to begin tomorrow (Wednesday), June 21, commit to “do Jewish” this summer. You will not regret it.


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