Author of "Embracing Auschwitz" and "Mensch•Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi - Wisdom for Untethered Times." Winner of the Rockower Award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism and 2019 Religion News Association Award for Excellence in Commentary. Musings of a rabbi, journalist, father, husband, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and self-proclaimed mensch, taken from essays, columns, sermons and thin air. Writes regularly in the New York Jewish Week and Times of Israel.
10 things to do on a holiday weekend while stuck in traffic or waiting endlessly at the airport
MAY 27, 2016, 8:45 PM
First of all, if you are stuck in traffic and reading this, I hope you are not the driver! It used to be that long weekends were not optimal times for rabbis to send out messages. But these days, more than half of those who read my blogs are doing so on mobile devices — in other words, while sitting in traffic at the GW Bridge or in (on) line at JFK, waiting to be strip searched by the T.S.A. So, as a public service, here are some suggestions that will keep you from yelling at your kid in the back seat or going full Rambo while digging into your pocket for cash to check your luggage.
1) Take a deep breath. That’s always a good idea. It really does get better. Just maybe not on this trip. You can add some Shabbat meditation to the mix by listening to Nava Tehila’s playlist. This Jerusalem-based group has energized the progressive Jewish world with its meditative, deep-breath spirituality and upbeat music. They visited my congregation last week and were a huge hit.
2) Go with the slow. Mobility is overrated, so accept your phlegmatic fate. Be grateful for it. Say a blessing for every construction cone placed on a highway during the busiest traffic day of the year. Thank the frigging idiot… I mean nice person who decided to pass you while careening through the breakdown lane. Collect yourself…. We need to move on from “moving on.” Sometimes standing still is precisely the antidote to this “spring forward” generation, when we barely have time to catch our breath from the latest outrageous comments made by supposedly responsible public figures, before the next one is uttered. No wonder we fail to be shocked. We’re moving too fast to stop and smell the sewage.
4) Smell the roses, too. Look out the window and notice the ordinary miracles. Albert Einstein put it best: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is. Choose.”Listen to Sarah McLachlan and that is sure to soothe you.
7) Listen to Mary Oliver recite her poem, “A Summer Day” and turn your next bug-infested rest stop into an exercise in mindfulness.
8) Jewish Spelling Bee. A great activity for those long car rides. TheNational Spelling Bee concluded last night (in a tie), so let’s continue with a Jewish Spelling Bee. You can start with these Jewish words that have made it into the national Bee, including the piece de resistance, “knaidel” (which in my mind is misspelled), the winning word in 2013. And let’s go even one step beyond, with a Jewish Auto-correct Bee. Guess in advance how Jewish words will be auto-corrected by your phone. “Knaidel” becomes “insider,” “Shma” becomes “Ahmad” (interesting) and “blintz” becomes “bling.” Just in time for Shavuot!