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!
“There is a blessing for everything!”
I first heard that line in an early viewing of Fiddler on the Roof, and it instilled in me quite young that in Judaism, we have a blessing for everything. Of course, at age five, I probably didn’t fully comprehend the joke that immediately followed, when the rabbi answers the initial question more fully (“Is there a blessing for the czar?”)…
“There is a blessing for everything! May God bless and keep the czar… far away from us!”
In that little line, we learn something about the Jewish mindset: There is a blessing for everything. But sometimes you have to get a little creative with it. And it’s often helped with a little humor.
Over the years, in ways subtle and overt, this has shaped my own attitude of gratitude. There’s always a way to be thankful, even if it takes some outside-the-box-thinking. Usually this applies to more esoteric things, for which there probably isn’t a Jewish blessing. Like, you know – the ongoing struggles of housebreaking a recently-adopted dog. Or the exhausted, grateful sadness of striking the set after a theatrical production. Or contemporary political realities like, uh – let’s say the “czar.”
Of course, you can say the Shehechiyanu for many of these moments. But the specificity of “a blessing for everything” is fun, and for most big and/or cyclical moments in Jewish life, there already is a specific blessing. For holidays, for eating, even for going to the bathroom. (Hey. Keeping it real, y’all.)
But recently, when searching for a specific blessing that I was 100% sure existed, I found a gap in our collection of blessings.
There is no officially prescribed blessing for summer.
Maybe it’s because after 40 years of wandering in the desert, the Jewish people didn’t have warm and fuzzy feelings about long stretches of endless sunshine. Whatever the reason, I verified this strange seasonal omission with a rabbi-friend. There are blessings for the rain changing to dew, for the harvest, for seeing a rainbow… and there are lots of contemporary blessings for summer camp, but I couldn’t find any general blessing for the summer.
So I humbly offer this one – because let’s face it, in some parts of the country, summer is a long, heady presence, and we need to find the blessings clinging to all that humidity:
A BLESSING FOR SUMMER
For the lengthening of days, stretching sunshine far past its winter bedtime,
For the bright blues and vibrant green and pops of color filling the warm world,
For the unrelenting humidity that reminds us to savor the sweetness of cooler breezes,
For all the sounds of summer – the jingling of ice cream trucks, joyful shouts of children splashing, lingering laughter over meals shared on patios, the shuddering clap of thunderstorms demonstrating something more powerful than us,
For summer camps and vacations and time spent outside,
For good AC when we’re stuck indoors,
For all these things and more, we thank You.
And may God bless and keep the mosquitoes… far away from us.