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Sep 18 2013

The Lesson of the Sprained Ankle on Sukkot

By at 4:00 pm

broken ankle in a castThe memories from last Sukkot are still painful. I recall hobbling into my family’s sukkah on the first night of the holiday, desperately trying to avoid putting pressure on my tender right ankle which I had sprained just a few weeks earlier. As the holiday of Sukkot, uniquely referred to as the “time of our joy,” was about to begin, I was not feeling particularly joyous. I was actually feeling pretty dismal and not just because of the ache in my ankle.

I have been an avid runner for the past two decades and I rely on my daily early morning runs to keep me grounded amidst the craziness of life. Since spraining my ankle–which ironically occurred while I was leisurely pushing my toddler in her stroller–my workouts had come to a grinding halt. After a few weeks and many missed runs later, not only was the pain in my ankle still lingering but I was feeling increasingly dejected about my situation with each passing day. Despite my best efforts to alternately ignore, suppress, rationalize, and even accept my negative feelings, I could not shake the sentiment that for some reason unbeknownst to me I was being punished from above. Now, both my body and soul were in pain. Read the rest of this entry →

Five Gorgeous Sukkot Tablescapes

By at 1:41 pm

If you’ve built your own sukkah, congratulations–the hard part’s over. But you may still want it to look nice and pretty inside. Even if you won’t be dining in a sukkah, you can turn your dinner table into a lovely Sukkot display. Take some inspiration from these five gorgeous Sukkot-inspired tablescapes.

1. Sukkot/Thanksgiving Tablescape from The Glamorous Housewife

sukkot tablescape the glamorous housewife

2. Sukkah Tablescape from The Shiksa in the Kitchen Read the rest of this entry →

The Non-Handy Dad Tries to Build a Sukkah

By at 10:03 am

drillz

When I was a kid, my mother was the only one in our apartment who would ever even attempt to make repairs.  The rest of us would hover around her like tribesmen watching their Medicine Man heal a baby. And my mom was the one who would tighten light switch plates using the edge of a butter knife because we didn’t own a flat head screwdriver. Thus the only thing I entered adulthood knowing how to fix was a martini. And trying to repair anything else made me want that martini.

So as Sukkot rolled around, there was no way my daughter could have known how stressful it was for me to decide to build a sukkah. She stood next to me on our deck, wearing an eager smile and brand new Cinderella work gloves. I should note that it was her enthusiasm that landed me in this spot in the first place. Her Sunday School teacher had asked if anyone’s family was planning to build a sukkah, and almost all of her friends raised a hand.  I recall it was the manner in which she later asked me that made it impossible for me to say no–it was so adult.

“Wouldn’t it be lovely to eat in our own sukkah, Daddy?” Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 17 2013

If At First You Don’t Sukkah Succeed, Try Try Again

By at 3:51 pm

lulav

When your family’s Sukkot tradition involves visiting a sukkah built by someone else, constructing a harvest hut of your own doesn’t come up. Even after my husband and I had kids, a brief shake of the lulav in the synagogue sukkah always sufficed. A couple of years ago, we decided that building our own would really be more meaningful. We made this decision the day before Sukkot. It didn’t go well.

So last year, when I got a hankering to try again, I was a mother on a mission. I banished the memory of that first attempt with its rickety supports and last-minute walls fashioned from a paint-spattered drop cloth. This time we’d involve the kids; make it festive! Accommodating as always, my husband designed a new, sturdier model, necessitating only a few two-by-fours. We were good to go.

The next week, I let slip to someone at shul that we we were building a sukkah. A moment later I heard myself agreeing to host a Sukkot potluck for neighborhood members of the congregation. Hoo boy. We’d really have do it up right, now that the tribe was coming. But what, exactly, did “right” entail? Read the rest of this entry →

Nine Amazing Crafts to Help Decorate Your Sukkah

By at 12:06 pm

Now that you’ve finished crafting for Rosh Hashanah it’s time to switch gears and decorate for Sukkot! (Just wait until the Thanksgiving and Hanukkah decorations overlap this year. OY!) The great thing about Sukkot decorations is that you can save them and use these memories to decorate for years to come.

Garland is a fun addition to any space and you can make it out of tissue paper or yarn. Both would look great hanging from your sukkah roof.

1. Pumpkin garland from Over the Moon: pumpkin garland

2. Pom-Pom Garland from 4 Men 1 Lady:  Read the rest of this entry →

Why My Family Builds a Sukkah

By at 10:01 am

sukkahDuring Yom Kippur, like many of you, I sat and stood for hours in synagogue, the change in posture serving as punctuation for my thoughts. As the sun crossed the sky, I thought about the person I had been for the past year, and was upset by all the ways in which I’d come up woefully short.

Over the course of Yom Kippur, the machzor guides us through feelings of awe and wonder, humility and agency, grief and hope. In contrast to God’s strength and power, we are, in the words of the Unetaneh Tokef, “a broken shard, grass that withers, a fading flower, a passing shade, a dissipating cloud, a blowing wind, flying dust, and a dream that vanishes.” Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 16 2013

How I Became a Sukkot Evangelist (And You Can, Too!)

By at 5:02 pm

sukkahI have unexpectedly become an evangelist for Sukkot. Though like any born-again-anything, I wasn’t always such a fanatic for this particular holiday.

Once upon a time I saw Sukkot as an event that only took place as part of a religious school’s curriculum. Along with the other students who came to Hebrew school three times a week, I’d help decorate the synagogue’s sukkah, stringing wire through bizarre looking gourds on the temple’s enormous property overlooking Lake Michigan. The next Sunday morning we’d have apple cider and cinnamon-sugar doughnuts in the sukkah instead of the regular slice of challah and grape juice in the classroom. We’d take turns shaking the lulav and smelling the etrog. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 4 2012

Your Sukkahs Are The Best!

By at 11:20 am

Yesterday we asked you to send us photos of your family’s sukkah. We were going to pick one or two of our favorites, but all of them were so beautiful we had to share more than just one!

Vermont sukkah

Via Debora Steinerman in Vermont

This porch-top sukkah’s mountainous backdrop is making us jealous!

Sukkah in New York City

Via Alessandra Rovati

This is the inside of Shearith Israel’s sukkah. You would never guess that this sukkah sits on New York City’s Upper West Side.

homemade lego sukkah

Via Rabbi Mark Fishman

These photos were sent to us from up north in Canada. How long do you think it took to build one of these sukkahs?

tiny apartment sukkah

Via Debi Cohen

Finally, we absolutely adore this tiny sukkah, squished onto a New York City balcony.

We can’t pick a favorite sukkah but maybe you can, tell us what your favorite one is!

And, if you haven’t had your fill of sukkahs yet, check out our collection of some of our favorites from the web.

Sep 30 2012

Why This Secular-Raised Jew Loves Sukkot

By at 3:58 pm

sukkah decoration pomegranate Sukkot starts tonight at sundown. For more info on the holiday, click here.

Our sukkah is up, and I am thrilled.

This is our first sukkah as a family, and my first sukkah ever.

I love pretty much all of the Jewish holidays, except maybe Tisha B’av, which has been known to fall on my birthday. (I don’t think you’re supposed to love that one anyway.) But Sukkot might be my favorite, for so many reasons.

Sukkot happens in the fall, and autumn in New England is nothing short of spectacular. The air is fresh and cool, a welcome change from the oppressive heat of summer. Our local farm stand has dozens of varieties of crisp, delicious apples, and the leaves in our neighborhood are varying shades of green, yellow, and red. It’s the perfect time to be outside. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 28 2012

Sukkah Extravaganza

By at 12:18 pm

Sunday night marks the beginning of Sukkot! To get into the right mindset and find some inspiration for your own sukkah, here are some of our favorite designs.

Sukkah photo courtesy of Jeremy Price (flickrcc/forestfortrees)

Design options are endless. Whether you prefer a more natural or colorful theme, there are decorations available and creatable to suit your needs. Read the rest of this entry →

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