Before we even reach the High Holy Days, I want to invite us to think about what is possible after the High Holy Days. The Yamim Nora’im, the Days of Awe that reach from Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur, are filled with intensity — an immersive experience with community, engaged in deep inner searching and reflection. There is an air of expectation that fills our sanctuary. The music transports us. The sound of the shofar cracks us open. The fasting, well, makes us hungry, but it also challenges our habituated relationship with comfort and might even help us shift our attention away from the short term needs of the body so we can concentrate on the deeper calls of moral conscience and spiritual vitality. The intentions and teachings stretch us and perhaps inspire something new, a fresh way of seeing, a renewed commitment to our values, to who we aim to be. It is a challenging and intense process. And hopefully, we come out the other side of the Day of At-One-Ment feeling lighter, more connected to one another, sparked by hopefulness and brave with open hearts, and then… then we often get busy again, habits kick back in and our lives can easily fall back to the way they were.
Even before the first apple slice hits the honey, it is useful to imagine what can help us stay open, stay connected and walking bravely in the values we aspire to embody. What can support us so that all our hard work during these Holy Days forms into something lasting? Jewish life has a good idea about the next step in this project. It’s called Sukkot.
After the ecstasy of High Holy Days, rather than returning to the laundry, we have another opportunity to come together, to gather less formally, more intimately, in the open, earthy structure of a sukkah, with the clear purpose of joy. We gather under a chuppah of branches and stars to fall in love with this life and our inherent unity with everything that is alive. Whether your connection to Jewish rituals and holydays is cultural, religious, spiritual, or communal, the practices of Sukkot carry us from the death and rebirth of Yom Kippur to the tender, unguarded celebration of new life. The stern weight of Yom Kippur, tied in with facing our precarious existence and the edges of life and death, finds balance in the delight of Sukkot, fragrant with the etrog and myrtle leaves. Without Sukkot as a partner to Yom Kippur, we might limp into a new year feeling the stern weight of life without a strong dose of exuberant joy and the embrace of love that gives it vitality. As a harvest festival, Sukkot sinks our teeth into the gifts of a generous earth and guides us in discovering joy in this abundant beauty. And this season of festivals culminates in Simchat Torah — dancing with one another and with the teachings that guide us year-round.
Please join us in joy and abundance for any or all of our Sukkot and Simchat Torah celebrations this year:
- “Chew on This” Multi-Faith Walk to Eradicate Poverty, concluding in the DJC Sukkah — Sunday, October 16th, 2:00 pm.
- All-Ages Community-Wide Sukkot Activities & Celebration — Thursday, October 20st, 5:30 – 7:30 pm.
- Kabbalat Shabbat Service in the Sukkah — Friday, October 21st, 7:00 pm.
- Simchat Torah Celebration & Dancing with Musicians Danny Greenspoon & Brian Katz — Sunday, October 23rd, 5:00 pm.