A Time for Revival

Right on schedule, the proverbial dog days of summer are upon us — those hot, sultry days when the blast of heat smacks you in the face the moment you step outside. Those days that herald the melancholy end-of-summer blues that few of us can escape.

No matter what our age, we use these pre-Labor Day weeks to cling to the waning days of summer's respite. For kids, it's the lingering memories of camp and other rejuvenating adventures.

For adults — even those of us still working during most of the season — it's the relatively carefree evenings filled with outdoor concerts, backyard barbecues, bike rides, the blessed absence of homework drills and, with any luck, a real vacation of some sort.

In this issue of the Jewish Exponent, while the extended days still prevail a bit longer, we highlight where many of us in the region find our summer getaways — down the shore and up in the mountains.

The stories of intergenerational living in Margate or Ventnor and a Bar Mitzvah celebration for a synagogue in the Poconos illustrate the familial and communal connections that link us together beyond our conventional landscape.

Beyond the summer dates, Merriam-Webster defines "dog days" as "a period of stagnation or inactivity." It's certainly easy to subscribe to that sense of inertia while the sweltering heat bears down on us.

But the Jewish tradition offers an alternative view. Even as we bask — or sweat — in the last days of summer at home or away, we begin to look ahead to the Jewish New Year.

Next week, Aug. 21, marks the beginning of the month of Elul, which, in turn, ushers in Rosh Hashanah and the High Holidays.

This month provides an opportunity for personal reflection and spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe.

It is the custom during Elul to blow the shofar at the end of each weekday morning prayer service, a wake-up call to seize the moment.

It is an opportunity, as we approach the holidays, to look toward new possibilities — to re-examine our ways of interacting with the world, with each other and with God.

The tragic death of three members of a local Jewish family — along with members of two Italian families vacationing in Manhattan — in a plane crash over the Hudson River this past weekend can't help but remind us that life is indeed fragile, that the most promising of lives, both young and old, can be cut short in a split second.

So as we live through these last weeks of summer, let us defy the dog days. Rather than stagnate, let's use the time to revive ourselves and our relationships as we look to the promise of new beginnings ahead.



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