by Adam Silver
(Calgary) – The summer is well underway, and I hope you and yours are enjoying the warm weather and the slightly slower pace. Many of us have remained quite busy, winding down activities from previous months, attending Stampede events and gatherings, and planning for the fall. Even still, with the long days, bright sunshine, open skies, and summer activities, we are still finding time to reconnect with our families, one another, and ourselves. There are also many children in our community who are enjoying an opportunity to make new friends and try new things at summer camp – day or overnight. Some of us may also take this opportunity to find a bit of respite from our work and volunteer commitments, replenishing our energy and clearing our minds for when things become busy again in September.
However, just because the summer is here doesn’t mean we aren’t still thoughtful about our Jewish lives, our self-improvement, and our kindness toward others. Some Jews follow a custom of studying Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers) each Shabbat throughout the summer months from the Shabbat after Pesach right through Rosh HaShanah. There are variations to this practice, but all involve completing this focus of study for at least one cycle, if not more. Pirkei Avot contains learnings and thoughts connected to ethics and interpersonal relationships.
We recently reviewed Chapter Six as part of the summer schedule, and I would like to focus on one particular piece, notably:
One who learns from his fellow a single chapter, or a single law, or a single verse, or a single word, or even a single letter, he must treat him with respect. – Pirkei Avot, 6:3
That is, one who learns from another person, from a whole chapter to a single letter, should appreciate the wisdom that is shared and the time that is given. While this chapter is centrally focused on the Torah, I would like us to apply some leeway and to consider any time, wisdom, and care shared by another person with us as extremely valuable. It is not uncommon for us to dismiss small learnings as simple, or to consider short engagements with another person as less than meaningful. However, as teacher or student, one might never know the true value of a small insight or a short and focused moment with someone else. As such, we should always be willing to listen and learn, and to share our knowledge and time.
Jewish Calgary continues to benefit from the wisdom, care, and generosity of the matriarchs and patriarchs who have built our community. It continues to be vibrant and strong thanks to the efforts of many others who continue to nurture and steward it. We are a community of growth, learning, dedication, pride, and compassion. Most importantly, we are a community of individuals who lift up one another, recognizing we are so much better and greater than the sum of our parts.
This summer, let’s all continue to be filled, and rejuvenate for the year to come. Let’s power one another through the sharing of our wisdom and time, and let’s all continue to aspire to a Jewish Calgary that can reach even greater heights!
Wishing everyone a safe and enjoyable August! B’Shalom.
Adam Silver is CEO, Calgary Jewish Federation.