I Made a Summer Bucket List & Going to Synagogue Wasn’t On It


About two months ago, I created a list of things to do this summer. There were four items on it:

1. Go to the beach—check

2. Go kayaking—not yet, but it’s in the works

3. Sip a cold drink while overlooking the ocean—check, but only if water counts

4. Attend an outdoor concert—not exactly, but I did manage to overhear a band performing at a local crafts festival, so I’m going to call this one done with

I was going over this list just the other day when I discovered one major problem with it: I forgot to include synagogue as a must-do summer activity. In fact, aside from an evening event that took place the first weekend of July, I haven’t been to synagogue all summer long, and I’m not very happy about that.

Now on one hand, it’s sort of understandable. My synagogue is virtually empty during the summer. People are away, there’s zero tot programming, and since my children are too young to sit through regular services, there’s not much point in putting them in a situation where they’re likely to be restless and miserable.

On the other hand, I’m disappointed in myself, because I made a little promise in my head last summer, when I was MIA on the synagogue front, that I wouldn’t have a repeat the following year. I also told myself that despite there being no tot programming, I’d at least show my face in the building by taking my kids to the tail end of services, even if it meant spending a grand total of 15 minutes in the actual sanctuary. But that didn’t happen. Not once.

And the kicker? Two years ago, I lamented the fact that synagogues are so shockingly empty over the summer right here on Kveller. And now here I am, part of the problem.

Not only am I angry with myself for avoiding synagogue all summer long, but I’m embarrassed that I only first realized I’d left it off my little list when a friend mentioned she’d seen that post and I was prompted to go back and read it. In other words, it’s not like I tried going to services but things came up or got in the way. I just didn’t think about it. And that’s not cool.

Now I could continue to beat myself up over this (if there’s one thing I’m really good at, it’s feeling guilty and not letting that guilt go), but instead, I’m pledging to create a solution: plan a summertime tot program myself for my synagogue next year.

I can’t continue to use the lack of tot programming as an excuse anymore, nor I can fall back on the whole “nobody else is going, so why should I?” way of thinking. That’s far too easy, and I don’t want to be someone who lets synagogue attendance fall by the wayside just because it happens to be summertime.

Incidentally, when I did write that piece two years ago, the one positive I took away from it was that being away from synagogue really made me miss it, which got me super excited about going back during the fall. And while I’m certainly not eager to let summer go, I am itching to get back to our synagogue routine—because ultimately, it’s a far more meaningful experience than paddling down a river, sipping sangria alongside the ocean, or any of the other things I set out to do this summer.

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Maurie Backman

Maurie Backman lives in Central New Jersey. Between her active toddler, twin baby girls, and yappy dog, she gets more than her fair share of noise. Maurie currently works as a freelance content writer and editor, and enjoys creating works of fiction. She also bakes way too often.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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