Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,
Tonight at sundown we enter into the festival of Sukkot. After the hectic pace of the Days of Awe, Sukkot is a welcome opportunity to relax. The primary mitzvah of Sukkot is to dwell (or at least dine) in a sukkah for a week and to rejoice there.
Sukkot is a harvest festival. In antiquity this was one of the three great pilgrimage festivals when our ancestors would have taken the fruits of their harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer them to God. Today we harvest memories, emotions, and experiences. What memories from the High Holidays do you want to bring with you into the sukkah this year?
Sukkot is an opportunity to remember the Exodus from Egypt, as the sukkah is meant to remind us of the temporary shelters in which our ancestors dwelled during the forty years of wandering.
Sukkot is also an opportunity to reflect on what’s temporary and what really lasts. We move for a week into these flimsy little houses (which must have roofs made of organic material through which one can see the full moon and the stars) in part to remind ourselves that even a beautiful and stable dwelling is ultimately as temporary as a sukkah… but if we cultivate faith and trust, we can know ourselves to be sheltered beneath the Divine Presence, even if our structures / our lives / our bodies don’t last forever.
And here in northern Berkshire, Sukkot is a glorious opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors during these beautiful days of fall.
Thanks to a group of wonderful volunteers, CBI’s beautiful sukkah is once again standing behind the synagogue. Deep thanks to Ed Oshinsky, Chaim Bronstein, and Orion Howard for corn stalks and frame, to the older Hebrew school kids for so ably working on the corn stalks and siding, and to Jen Burt and her family for fabulous decoration!
Hebrew school students throwing corn stalks onto the roof.
“Our sukkah is your sukkah” — please come and take advantage of the CBI sukkah anytime during the coming week, day or night! Bring lunch to the CBI sukkah and dine there beneath the rustling cornstalks; bring dinner; bring your book group to meet there; bring a bottle of wine and enjoy the moonlight; even bring a sleeping bag and camp out if you’re so inclined! The sukkah is here for you.
And, of course, I hope you’ll join us on Friday night for our Shabbat / Sukkot potluck, where we plan to honor Bob and Barbara Bashevkin for their years of participation at CBI. Please do RSVP so that we know how many people are coming and what people plan to bring.
Chag sameach / a joyous festival to you!