Summer Rite, by Rabbi Deborah Glanzberg-Krainin, Ph.D.

There are all kinds of ways to make something special, and mark the passage of time. Let us know yours.

This week, I will be joining the many American parents who are packing their children off to camp. In my family, this process is highly ritualized—although not in the ways you might expect from a family with two rabbi parents and children who attend a Jewish day school and a Jewish camp.  We don’t share blessings before the kids get on the bus, we don’t recite a prayer as we zip the camp trunk closed. What we do is go out to dinner.

For the past decade, we have celebrated the night before camp with a family dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. The roles have changed a little—our oldest camper is now a counselor, our youngest now heads off to camp as well—but the essence of the evening remains the same. It is a fun meal and a chance to be together before we disperse.  Our pre-camp dinner is well-established and prescribed by family expectation. It is not a religious rite, but it is an annual rite of passage as we highlight the ways each of us has changed since dinner the previous year.

I am not writing about this because I think the prosaic details of my family life are so inspiring. Rather, I want to point out the many forms ritual can take in our lives. I want to invite you to think about the ways your “established procedures” shape and enhance your life. In particular, I am curious about how you ritualize your child’s departure for camp. Do you send them off with a whispered prayer? Or does your ritual revolve around an annual pre-camp shopping trip? There are all kinds of ways to make something special, and mark the passage of time. Let us know yours on our Facebook page.