Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
In the Jewish world, summers are an incredible time for Jewish identity to blossom in children. Jewish summer camps are often recalled as a favorite Jewish memory for people. Summer breaks from school can allow even those students living in areas where there aren’t a lot of Jews finally get to spend a month or more interacting, learning, and socializing with other kids who are “Jewish like them.” Jewish camp is informal Jewish education at its best, and creates an unparalleled spirit of excitement around the summer for both older and younger students. You just have to peruse our sister blog over at The Canteen to get a sense of the power of camping to make summers into truly transformative Jewish seasons!
When students grow up and become adults (perhaps moving through the phases from camper to counselor-in-training to counselor to unit head…) and Jewish camp is no longer an option for your summer, it’s safe to say that the summer can feel significantly less Jewish. However, if you’re like me, my summers as an adult have just started getting Jewish!
You see, I was not a “camp” kid. I spent a grand total of one summer at Jewish camp when I was 15, and never got into the camp culture. My summers were not my “Jewish” time. I didn’t understand what my friends were talking about when they relived their glory days when school started back up in the fall. Now, however, my summers are totally Jewish! At the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, summers are one of the most exciting times of the years – new staff starts their summer internships and two-year fellowships, we have our annual Education Conference, all of the Education Fellows hit the road, and we begin to busily prepare for the year ahead. It is an exciting and unique time, and oh so Jewish.
So, while I may have missed out on having “Jewish” summers as a kid, I am making up for it now. This summer, just like the last few, I’ll be getting my fill of fun, fresh Jewish excitement as the Southern sun shines down on us! But, with the heat and for a more camp-like feel, I do need to find out a way to incorporate some more pool time…