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!
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • 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.