It just doesn't seem fair. After all, the pools are still filled.
Summer, for so many of us, begins when the local swimming holes open on Memorial Day, and officially ends when they close on Labor Day. But this year, many area students will don their backpacks and board their buses well before the holiday weekend gets rolling.
Those students who do head back to class after Sept. 6 -- the Jewish students, anyway, along with others whose schools give them a day or two off -- will wind up taking a break a couple of days later, with the start of Rosh Hashanah. It's an early New Year in 2010. Both students and worshippers will find themselves barely past beach season, and rifling through cotton shirts and summer suits for shul, instead of wool or corduroy.
Fashion and school supplies aside, what this season really represents is a rush of excitement in the pursuit of education. The confident (or slightly anxious) kindergartner will step out into a world of firsts, as an equally confident (or slightly anxious) college kid will enter an entirely different universe -- one that comes with a lot more freedom. All the while, their bittersweet parents will perhaps reminisce on their own memorable school-related moments so many years ago.
But why do we -- the older set --have to just look back? Why not look forward ourselves? There's certainly no moratorium on learning, and there's certainly a plethora of opportunities for us to dive right into something new. And since the timing coincides perfectly, let's jump into something new Jewishly.
If you ever wanted to try Torah study, now's the time. If you ever wanted to understand the words behind a particular prayer, do it in the upcoming High Holiday month. If you ever wanted to learn Hebrew, here's your chance. Even a Jewish book club works; the point is, strike while the iron is hot, while the momentum of all those young people seems to make the earth spin round.
Remember: Our children observe everything we do. Sure, we can tell them to study their spelling or finish their math, but what does it say when we then turn back to "play" with our laptops and cell phones, or watch another episode of "Mad Men"? Let them see us with our own open texts, with our nose in a book, with assignments of our own making.
For help in finding local resources, turn to this week's Community Calendar or Synagogue Directory for ideas in the area of adult education. Or call the Jewish Information and Referral Service for age-appropriate groups and suggestions (215-832-0821).
You can also search the Internet -- under "Jewish learning" or "Jewish adult education," or check out what's offered at Gratz College, Temple University, and Penn and Drexel -- and show the kids that you're especially with it by taking a class online.
So, what are you waiting for? There's no time like the present. Come on in, everyone; the water's just fine.