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Sukkot

It’s Simchat Torah! Let’s Dance!

Simchat Torah in the Yari’s sukkah.

Ya know how when you throw an epic party and everyone comes and has a great time, and there’s always one last person to leave? It’s like the ultimate Jewish goodbye. Well that’s my analogy for Simcha Torah, and the guest of honor is God, who wants us to soak in every last bit of happiness and newfound wisdom from the weeklong festival of Sukkot. When we welcome guests into our outdoor huts and we gather together in the beauty of nature and under the stars, we are humble and grateful.  We aren’t focused on material things that separates us, but rather the simple joys that bring us together. My mouth is still watering from dipping soft chewey challah into tahini stuffed eggplant and butternut squash soup, a few of the delicacies that wet our appetites for a feast served inside the sukkah of Rabbi Yosef and Mimi David. Consideirng the meal began after sundown, when the stars appeared, it was a late nite before we said our goodbyes. As we walked down the sidewalk together, we heard the sounds of crickets chirping and the faint singing of neighbors down the street who were still rejoicing after a full day of fun in their annual Yari sukkah party with lots of children, families, balloon making, moon bounce, a juggling rabbi, and a dairy meal of pasta, quiche, and sweets that kept on coming. This feeling of joy is what we strive for when Sukkot is finally over and we move back into our homes and return to our everyday lives. We try to maintain the closeness to each other, to God, and to nature.

Rabbi Yari known for his many talents, including juggling at weddings and special holidays.

Children enjoy the balloon making, treats, moon bounce and more.

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Sukkot Celebrates Bountiful Harvest with Family, Friends, Food & Fun

A decorated sukkah in Israel.

The week-long festival of Sukkot, the Hebrew word for “booths,” begins when the sun goes down tomorrow night (September 23-30), and is considered one of the happiest times in the Jewish calendar. When else are we commanded to build a hut-like structure, called a sukkah, in our backyard, decorate it with fresh fruit, gourds and other Judaica ornaments, and get to eat our meals alfresco and even sleep under roofs of branches open to the stars? Continue reading

Sukkot: What We Learn When Our Walls Come Down

When Yom Kippur ends, another Jewish holiday begins. Sukkot! This week-long pilgrimage festival (October 5-13, 2017) commemorates the time when Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years after escaping from slavery in Egypt. The Jewish people built temporary tent-like structures to sleep, eat, and dwell in, and it’s a mitzvah for us to build a sukkah and to immerse ourselves in nature and God’s presence. At this time in our world, when everyday seems to bring another natural or manmade tragedy, from the hurricanes to mass shootings, we are reminded of how vulnerable we really are. The safety of four concrete walls can’t protect us from harm. Also, when we isolate ourselves in our shelters, we can’t connect with each other. So, Sukkot is a time for our walls to come down, for us to be in touch with not only nature and with God, but also with each other. During Sukkot, we are reminded that God’s presence is bigger than all of us. Sukkot, yet another opportunity to make the ordinary–like an outdoor hut–holy again. Continue reading

Mom Tries Camping Again, Only In A Sukkah

Yom Kippur starts out as the most solemn holiday of the Jewish year, but it ends with one of the happiest celebrations. Once we break the fast with a bite of cheese blintze and devilled egg, it’s time to move the party outdoors and hammer in the first post of the sukkah, an outdoor hut that marks the beginning of the next holiday, Sukkot. Continue reading

Sukkah Squad Helps Build Memories

In commemoration of our ancestors’ 40-year journey in the wilderness, Jews are supposed to leave their homes and live in temporary shelters. If I didn’t know better, the commandment (Leviticus) that tells us to “dwell in booths for seven days” sounds like a Salvation Army homeless shelter. Of course, I’m talking about a sukkah, a Hebrew word meaning “booths” or “huts” and is the symbol of our thanks for the plentiful Fall harvest. Continue reading

Sukkot Transforms Your Backyard Into a Bimah

During the Hebrew month of Tishrei, Jews go from the most solemn day of the year, Yom Kippur, to one of the simplest, Sukkot, which celebrates the plentiful Fall harvest. In a period of just 14 days, we move from the glorified high holidays to the most down-to-earth festival of all. In the time it takes to polish off the last bite of leftover defrosted brisket, we transcend from praying in the majestic, stained-glass surroundings in our congregation to shaking the lulav with our children in a makeshift outdoor hut. The synagogue is heavenly. The sukkah, literally, is under the heavens. Only in Judaism can we call both the beama and our backyard holy places of worship. Continue reading