The Jewish holiday of Sukkot began Wednesday night. Here are some reasons that it's my favorite holiday:
1. The myrtle. It is part of the arbah minim, the four species, that we use to celebrate the harvest holiday. I love the smell of the myrtle...it brings me back to the Sukkot of my youth... (plus, the shape reminds us of the eye, through which we see the world...)
2. The etrog. A citron, bright yellow, it smells delicious. I love the feel of it in my hand, cold and heavy, bumpy and smooth... And it reminds us of the heart, a heart full of love and joy at the holiday of Sukkot!
3. The decorating. I am so loving the decorating thing...sometimes I wish we could put the sukkah in the front yard so the whole world can see it. (our front yard is too much of a hill but also that just isn't the custom!)
4. A chance to put up lights. Okay, I know that this isn't totally a typical Sukkot thing, but it's the chance for me to string up some pretty lights and turn them on at night...
5. The weather. It always cooperates by cooling down. Sometimes it chooses to rain (which is supposed to happen, actually, since we're now praying for rain) which does make it harder to celebrate outside in the sukkah. Whole holidays have gone by (it's a week long) without being able to eat in the sukkah.
6. The gourds. They always come out at the same time as we're decorating for Sukkot. They're so cool looking and fun and festive at the fall time.
7. Remembering Israel. Eating out in the sukkah reminds me of living in Israel, where most restaurants had their own sukkot in which you could eat during the holiday. How cool is that?
8. The Sukkah Trolley. Each year, our congregation takes a ride around town in a trolley to visit sukkot around our congregational community. Usually we go aroudn the synagogue, but this year, because of our construction, we are going closer to our temporary site for Religious School and so the trolley is coming to my house!
9. The food. Sukkot for me means the return of wintery food like chili, soup, stews, etc. Yum!
10. Our indoor sukkah. Our first year living in Chicago, we didn't have a sukkah so I put one up in the kitchen. I strung up decorations like leaves and fruit as well as a little string of shiny stars (you're supposed to see the stars through the roof, hence the stars on the ceiling). It's more of the decorating fun but it also means that we are eating *every* meal in a "sukkah" more or less, even though it doesn't really follow Jewish law, it still is fun. Plus, as I said before, it often rains (or even snows, like last year) and we can't get out to the Sukkah. This reminds us of the holiday's presence...
11. Thinking of those in need. The sukkah provides a great visual aid for teaching young children about what it means to be homeless. Imagine if you had to live in a sukkah all the time...
12. Singing Hallel. We sing the Hallel psalms on Sukkot. Bonia Shur has an incredible musical setting for the Hallel Psalms that is performed once a year at Hebrew Union College. We sing one piece of it at Am Shalom to celebrate Sukkot (and other holidays too).
13. The end of Sukkot is Simchat Torah, which might be my other favorite holiday. (Okay, regular readers of my blogs will note that I actually like them all!) That's next week's post, though so I'll hold onto it!
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