Posted on September 10, 2020
From the Rabbi’s desk
How to prepare for Sukkot this year
22 Elul 5780
Rabbi Miriam T. Spitzer
Build a Sukkah
There is nothing like the experience of having a sukkah. Last year I was not able to build my own sukkah as we were living in a 4th-floor apartment with no balcony. That was okay, as our synagogue had a communal sukkah and Jeffrey and I ate our meals there. This year Temple Israel very sadly cannot put up our usual Temple sukkah. If you do not live in a 4th-floor apartment, I strongly recommend building a sukkah. There is nothing like having your own sukkah for kiddush, for meals, for just sitting, relaxing, and enjoying.
Never done it before? There are companies that sell prefab and easily assembled sukkot. Alternatively, you can find outlines of how to build a sukkah on the internet. Or you can design your own. There are very few rules. A sukkah needs to have at least two and a half walls. It cannot be under a tree. The “roof” needs to be made of organic material, thick enough that there is more shade than sun, but not so thick that you cannot see the stars through it. The sukkah might be decorated with pictures your grandchildren drew or with Rosh HaShannah cards, or with anything you like. I save beautiful and intriguing calendar pictures and laminate them for the sukkah. (Side note, I recommend against using fresh fruit or vegetables for two reasons. First, I deplore the waste of food, and second, it attracts the kind of visitors to the sukkah that most of us do not want even though they are not carrying COVID.)
Get your own Lulav and Etrog
Like dwelling in the sukkah, shaking a lulav and etrog is a multi-sensory experience. You feel it in your hands. It is pretty to look at. The etrog smells good. You can hear it when it shakes. (Four out of five ain’t bad.)
`Temple Israel typically buys several lulav and etrog sets and puts them out for general use. Anyone who comes to services whether on yom tov or on hol hamoed can use one of the Temple-owned lulav sets.
That is not going to happen this year.
So I encourage you to buy your own lulav and etrog set. We can take care of that for you and save on shipping costs. Let Karen know this week that you want one and she will add it to our group order. You will be responsible for picking it up from the Temple before Sukkot. Then you will have it at home to use during yom tov (except Shabbat) and weekday services and to enjoy for the whole holiday. Shaking the lulav and etrog adds a tactile dimension to Sukkot and multiplies the joy.
Watch for our Simhat Torah program
Okay, technically Simhat Torah comes after Sukkot. And technically our Simhat Torah program will be after Simhat Torah. But on Sunday night October 11th, when the holiday goes out, we are going to open a Torah scroll for a show and tell “Torah Highlights” over Zoom. Stay tuned for more information.