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Desperately Seeking Sukkot

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Having written about the Frummies attempt to make Shavuot meaningful for the entire family this past Sivan, we are now faced with Sukkot.

Though there is a worship component to Sukkot, it is mostly a home-based holiday. In fact, as BossGiraffe is fond of saying, “you don’t really own this holiday until you’ve built your own sukkah.” And he’s right.

With PC in Easton, PA much of the time, my days and nights are full as I juggle family and congregational responsibilities. With familial obligations often taking a backseat. So…no sukkah this year. Which makes me sad…and leaves me feeling rather guilty that I am not living up to my own expectations as a Jewish mother.

The kids will not be going to school on Thursday. It is the first day of Sukkot and, as is written in the Good Book, “it shall be a day of complete rest for you.” Since they won’t be in school, I’ve set out to find an appropriate place for us to celebrate the first day of one of the major festivals on the Jewish calendar.

Nada. Nisht. Efes. Nothing.

That’s right. With Sukkot starting midweek, virtually every single Reform and Conservative shul (and many of the Othodox as well) is planning age-appropriate Sukkot activities this Sunday. But not actually on the first day. Day schools are all closed so it isn’t as if there aren’t any kids who will need to find where to be that day.

My guess, and please correct me if I am wrong, is that families who choose to keep their kids home or attend schools that will be closed, are not regarding shul as their primary avenue for Sukkot observance. Rather, I imagine that they will be visiting the sukkot of family and friends that day. Synagogues, therefore, have no reason to create programming for kids who won’t be in attendance.

Which leaves us without any plans. And gives me less than twenty-four hours to come up with meaningful ways for our family to observe the first, and sacred, day of Sukkot.

**this is NOT our sukkah. It IS available, however, from Sukkah Soul.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Shellie Halprin permalink
    Tuesday, 21 September 2010 11:32 pm

    Seriously…I am not working right now and I would be so delighted to get together with you and the kids and help you build one with PVC pipe. I’m kinda handy that way. You could probably do the whole project for under $50 including the silk plants and lattice for the roof. I might even have some plastic fruit somewhere. What do you think?

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Wednesday, 22 September 2010 11:01 am

      For real??? That would be such an amazing gift you would be giving me. I accept!!! And we’ve got some available skhakh here at shul that I can use!!!

  2. chavah permalink
    Wednesday, 22 September 2010 12:02 am

    I don’t have kids, but the lack of services and general community fanfare for chagim, shabbat during the summer, etc, is what drove me out of the Reform movement. I love being modern and egal and playing it fast and loose with some things, but Sukkot shouldn’t be a throwaway holiday.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 23 September 2010 10:39 pm

      I agree. It shouldn’t, and isn’t, a throw away holiday. The lack of fanfare is across the board, as noted in my post. This isn’t a Reform issue; it is a Diaspora issue. Yes, there are certainly certain neighbourhoods that embrace this chag. And many shuls have Sukkot events this upcoming weekend.

      As for fanfare for the chagim, Shabbat services during the summer, that truly varies from shul to shul. And, again, we see this across the movements.

  3. Wednesday, 22 September 2010 8:10 am

    Some ideas…

    The year that my husband was commuting and we didn’t build a sukkah was the first year of our “indoor sukkah” which was really fun and I still do every year (since out here, inevitably, the weather is terrible during sukkot anyway) – a total decoration of our kitchen eating area complete with stars hanging from the ceiling. Could be a fun Sukkot morning activity. A trip to Michael’s to buy all the supplies will not take much…and you could make paper chains, etc, all the “traditional” sukkah decorations.

    Go back to the nature walk idea that I did on Shavuot and find a nature preserve to hang out in. Bring a picnic. Eat hummus and talk about Israel.

    Do you do apple picking in California? Or some other kind of fruit/veggie? Could you pick a few bushels and then deliver them to a food pantry? (Didn’t you do this on Shavuot? Could be a cool bracketing to the harvest concept…)

    Are there any places you can go and prepare a meal – like a homeless shelter or Ronald McDonald House or something like that?

    Can you go and eat in the shul’s sukkah? We always invite people to do that. Hey – it’s also your (spiritual) HOME!!! 🙂

    Funny, I kept my kiddo home from school on Shavuot. Maybe because it’s a one-day deal, I didn’t want to miss out. But Sukkot feels like a longer investment, so my kiddo is going to school. But we’ll be eating in the sukkah, playing in the sukkah and basically non-stop talking about the sukkah all week. Tonight at the shul is Pizza in the Hut… 🙂

    • Wednesday, 22 September 2010 9:41 am

      Pizza in the Hut. I love it.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Sunday, 3 October 2010 9:50 am

      All great ideas!!!

      We — and by “we” I mean I — kept them home. Mostly to help them get in the habit that on yuntiv, we don’t go to school (and later, to work).

      I’m hoping to get even better at this stuff…

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