Six Excuses To Celebrate Jewishly This Summer

It's a Barren Season for Jewish Holidays — Until Now!

Kurt Hoffman

By Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic

Published June 23, 2013, issue of June 28, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

Yom Lo Kinder

Kurt Hoffman

This freedom festival is celebrated mainly by parents of children ages 6 to 16 on the day they drop the kids off at summer camp. While the children’s holiday attire is informal, minhag, or Jewish custom, says that every article of clothing must be labeled with the name of the child. The most common prayers include the “Don’t get sick so I have to come and fetch you” and the “Stop being homesick; you’re not missing anything.” There is no special siddur; prayers are spontaneous. Emotions run high as parents are relieved, guilty, happy and sad to entrust their precious offspring into the care of inexperienced counselors. When the parents return home to an empty house, the ritual four cups of wine (good stuff, not Manischewitz) are often part of their celebratory meal.

Kine-a-Schnorrer

Kurt Hoffman

Celebrated only by Jews fortunate enough to have a backyard swimming pool, this holiday ushers in the summer season, when uninvited guests — the “summer ushpizin” — drop by just for a little swim. Those who observe this holiday year after year are familiar with the protocol: Guests swim, then ask for a little nosh, then you have to serve iced tea and offer them a dry towel. Before you know it, you have 10 loads of laundry to do. The Kine-a-Schnorrer holiday gives rise to the well-known expression “Make a fence around the pool.”

Schlepping Sand

Kurt Hoffman

An obscure pilgrimage festival celebrated by Jews near beaches. This is the day when Jewish families load up the car with bikes, coolers and beach towels and journey to the sea. Although no temple sacrifice is necessary, parents do sacrifice sanity, money and personal space by sharing a rental house with the whole mishpokhe, or extended family. At the conclusion of the Schlepping Sand festival — after loads of sand are accidentally schlepped back home in crusty towels and unwashed beach toys — children begin the solemn “counting of the school supplies,” marking time until the first day of school. Traditional holiday foods include salt water taffy, Good Humor popsicles and squished tuna fish sandwiches. “Yes, they’re still good. I packed them this morning.”

Simchat Squash

Kurt Hoffman

This Festival of First Fruits From the Backyard Garden is celebrated mostly by suburban Jews as they gather in the bounty of their 3-by-5 plots. Offerings include black-spotted tomatoes, misshapen carrots, scraggly string beans and a plethora of zucchini. Customs include Googling zucchini recipes and recalling the legend in which God tells the Israelites, “Just eat it. It’s good for you.” Festive foods pay homage to the summer squash and include zucchini muffins, zucchini pancakes, zucchini bread and zucchini kugel. City-dwelling Jewish hipsters don’t celebrate this holiday; they belong to food co-ops and community supported agriculture programs.

Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic are the authors of the “Dictionary of Jewish Words.” They tweet @TheWordMavens and blog at TheWordMavens.wordpress.com. Their newspaper column, “Shmoozing With the Word Mavens,” was syndicated in Jewish newspapers across the country. They write frequently for the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, InterfaithFamily.com and other publications. They can be reached at info@TheWordMavens.com.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.