The High Holidays, along with everything in our world, are different. I wistfully think about years past, celebrating together with family (at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA) and the undeniable power of hundreds of voices raised as one praying for forgiveness and a better world. It makes me feel more separated and alone than ever in our new normal.
But we aren’t alone. Judaism supports us in these difficult times. Our ancestors went through pandemics and other horrible times. They have provided us with key tools adaptable to this moment.
You are probably preparing for Yom Kippur this Sunday evening through Monday. This year especially, consider the next step in our Journey of the Chag (the Jewish High Holidays), Sukkot (October 2nd-9th). On Rosh Hashanah we celebrate the “birthday of the world” and take 10 days to ask forgiveness from others. On Yom Kippur, we ask forgiveness from G-d. The next step is Sukkot – appreciation for the blessings we have, even when things seem bleak. It’s a dichotomy, pushing us literally outside our comfort zone into the fragile hut of the sukkah, while feasting and sharing (at a distance this year) with friends and family. Sukkot, is an outdoor, home-based holiday that brings a new and joyous focus to the High Holidays in a COVID-Safe way.
A “Sukkah Space” is Perfect this Year
Many of us identify this holiday with the sukkah – the actual “hut” or “tabernacle.” If you already have a sukkah don’t let COVID stop you from setting it up and celebrating. Get our Safe Sukkah Fact Sheet for tips on how to celebrate safely. Send pictures!!! If you have never had a sukkah, you may feel that it’s a lot of work or perhaps there’s no space or it’s too expensive. This year we ALL need the joy that Sukkot brings, let’s find a way to make it work.
You don’t need a sukkah to celebrate this year. These makeshift sukkahs are from two of our volunteers, the first is a decorated pergola in Northern Virginia, the second is from the side of a house from Palo Alto, CA.
A “kosher” sukkah has three temporary walls, one open wall and a thatched roof that lets you see the stars. Consider setting aside an outdoor “sukkah space” on your deck, patio, porch or patch of grass to do the job. Decorate it, make it special, it a little sacred for a week. Eat a few meals in your sukkah or sukkah space and don’t skimp on the sweets for a sweet New Year.
Share your sukkah/sukkah space with others – COVID safe – in person or virtually. There’s enough thankfulness to go around.
Invite 2 neighbors of a different faith into your COVID safe or virtual sukkah
The 2 for Seder Virtual Sukkah
There’s one more option! 2 for Seder is setting up a “Virtual Sukkah” where we will be celebrating throughout the holiday on Facebook and YouTube, starting September 30th culminating in our “Singing in the Sukkah” event on Tuesday, October 6th. Thank you to FJMC for helping us set up our Sukkah right after Yom Kippur.
Next Week: How Sukkot can help us fight anti-Semtism with Love and a SAFE Sukkah. It’s part of the tradition of Sukkot.