How to Pump Up Your Jewish Volume By Rabbi Judy Chessin

Summertime may seem like a break, for some, from Judaism. Makor, our Sunday-School, is on hiatus, and we have a couple months before our High Holidays. The ebb and flow of our Jewish activity level has been measured in what some call “Jewish volume.” This means that rather than measuring Jewish commitment based upon trips to the synagogue, we can measure Jewishness based upon the impact our heritage has on our daily lives.

A high Jewish “volume” might indicate that Judaism plays a significant role in our home, social, professional, and personal lives; whereas a low Jewish “volume” might mean Judaism does not. Most of us are attuned to a “mid-range” volume, with Judaism playing a small part in some but not all aspects of our lives, or perhaps a large part in relatively few.

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Many of us find that during a significant life-cycle, personal, or historical milestone, our Jewish volume increases dramatically, as with a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. An entire year goes into preparing, tutoring, studying, practicing and planning. Then, after the thank-you notes are written, the volume goes back “down to normal.”

Even the simple act of driving to religious school, preparing for a wedding, or considering a trip to Israel in the distant future might significantly increase our Jewish “volume.”

Thankfully, we can dial up or down the Jewish volume at differing points in our lives. Consider how low our Jewish volume might have seemed in college whereas, once we had children, it seems to be running at full blast!

Most Jews find that a higher Jewish volume contributes to family sense of well-being. A healthy dose of Judaism can provide a sense of rootedness, spirituality, meaning and connection to one another, our community, our people and our God.

Large numbers of Jews feel most comfortable with a volume of only High Holy Day attendance and carpooling children to religious school. Yet this volume may not suffice for lasting Jewish impact on our day-to- day lives.
While synagogues can convey information and warm feelings for the Jewish faith, attendance alone may not impart identity, values, life-skills, appreciation for tradition and an organic sense of what it means to be a Jew.

This summer, we can up the volume of our Jewish lives in our homes in countless enjoyable ways. Play Jewish music, have friends over for a leisurely Sabbath meal, read a Jewish novel or website, learn to make challah or hummus, or attend a Jewish cultural event.

In this season of air-conditioning, turning up our Jewish volume might help with “heir-conditioning” as well! Now is the perfect time to enhance our spiritual growth and to bring us and our children meaning, joy, and fulfillment this summer and in the coming year.


Rabbi Judy Chessin