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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 →

Why Sukkot is Awesome

By at 10:24 am
little girl playing in fall leaves

via Flickr/sugarfrizz

Sukkot, one of the three great pilgrimage festivals of the Jewish year, begins this Sunday evening. But poor Sukkot… she often gets lost in the great High Holiday shuffle.

For many of us, the whirlwind of Jewish holidays has wound down. We’ve stuffed ourselves silly with bagels and kugel at the break-fast. We’ve eaten our share of apples and honey, we’ve heeded the call of the shofar and tried to think about ways in which we’ll make 5773 better than 5772, and, if you’re anything like me, we’ve lost sleep shuffling our young children between grandparents’ homes, sleeping in different beds, coming back to our apartments in the city smelling like chicken, only to turn around and realize another holiday is upon us. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 27 2012

How to Build Your Own Sukkah

By at 8:03 pm

building a sukkahGot some free time this weekend? Hows about building your own sukkah? Sure, it’s a bit labor intensive, but you will definitely feel accomplished and then you get to enjoy your creation for all of Sukkot, which begins this Sunday at sundown and lasts for an entire week. Plus, once you’ve done all the hard work, your kids can help with the decorations.

To learn how to build your own sukkah, including all of the detailed requirements set forth to us by our handy ancestors, click here. And once you’re ready to decorate, try making these recycled paper chains or take the short cut and buy some of our favorite sukkah decorations from Modern Tribe.

Oct 19 2011

Sukkot Ain’t Over Yet

By at 11:44 am

This totally happened to the box of tissues in my house the other day.

Personally, I’m a fan of celebrating holidays as much as I can. Sukkot is usually one of them–though we have no outdoor space to build a sukkah, I try to find my way into someone else’s. Or do some fall baking, or something like that. But this year–well, all of the members of my household have colds. And Sukkot–a holiday where you celebrate by being outdoors in a hut–doesn’t go so well when you’re sneezing and coughing all over each other.

So we’re doing Sukkot a bit late–and in our own style. My daughter and I are going to celebrate the end of Sukkot with this delicious edible sukkah craft. All you need are crackers, cream cheese, carrot sticks, and some cherry tomatoes. Since my 2-year-old will only eat the crackers and cream cheese, I’ll be left to eat the vegetables on my own. But it’s cool–because we’ll be spending time together and learning something,  too.

(If you’re not feeling like doing Sukkot–try this edible turkey Torah craft for Simchat Torah! We’re big on eating our crafts these days.)

Chag sameach–a happy holiday!

Oct 12 2011

Sukkah Lessons From a “Hard-Core” Jew

By at 10:42 am

“What is THAT?”

When I hear someone say this sentence in a certain tone as they peek into our backyard, it’s a good indication that it’s sometime just after Yom Kippur and they’re looking at our sukkah.

I grew up in a neighborhood full of Jews, but most of them were more on the “Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur-Hanukkah-bar mitzvah” side of the observance spectrum.  In contrast, we were deemed “hard-core” for observing other holidays generally. The fact that we went to synagogue instead of school on holidays such as Simchat Torah and Shavuot made my siblings and I curiosities. “Now you’re just making these holidays up,” one of my high school friends said when I returned to school after Shavuot.

Curiosities, though, were one thing. My dad getting out the tool kit, canvas, scaffolding and skhakh (the covering) for our reusable sukkah, though – that was closer to “weird.” And, as an ever-self-conscious adolescent, I was pretty sure that no one except us was eating breakfast, weekend lunches, and dinners in the backyard. I was sure no one had to make sure they didn’t trip over makeshift electrical lighting while they cleared the table. None of the other kids at school were trying to get warm in a down vest as they ate butternut squash soup, relishing the feel of steam on their faces. I even wanted my family to keep their voices down as we made the blessings, worried that our (Jewish) next-door neighbors would hear us and be freaked out. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 10 2011

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Sukkot

By at 11:35 am

Sukkot is one of my favorite Jewish Holidays, and it is wonderful and fun for kids.  You get to build a club house and decorate it with all of your awesome art and crayon creations. You can eat, play, and sing in it, and, if you are lucky, camp out under the stars.

From a farmer’s perspective, the holiday makes lots of sense.  Sukkot falls during the peak of the fall harvest. I find it very natural to feel a direct connection to our ancestors who built sukkot long ago. And from a mother’s perspective,  shifting meals outside is a welcome relief because there is no need to pick up all of the crumbs that fall to the ground.

Sounds a little too perfect, right? What’s the catch?  For us, it’s a bit unusual.  Over the past year, my 4-year-old has shown his first real signs of Christmas envy.  Every once in a while, he will start wistfully talking about candy canes, ornaments, and, of course, Christmas trees. (His main exposure has been friends talking about it at preschool, and the glimmering trees we have stumbled upon here and there.)

Whenever he talks longingly about Christmas, it sends me into a bit of a panic. How will we manage to impart a solid, joyful Jewish identity to our children, with all of its complexity, hard questions, and devastating history — when shimmery, happy, easy going Christmas seems to be hidden around every corner?

In the midst of one somewhat desperate Jewish sales pitch, I  recently found myself saying that during Sukkot, we get to decorate an entire hut–not just one tree.

“You mean with pretty lights and candy canes?” He asked. “That’s one way to decorate,” I said.

We’re in the process of building our sukkah now. All of the pieces from the branches for the frame to the corn stalks on top will come from our farm.  And once it is built, it will be time to decorate.

I am not sure I will be able to find candy canes this time of year (plus I don’t allow my children to eat artificial colors), but I think I will look for some healthy, natural treats to hang from the ceiling.  And if we make some decorations, I guess we can call them sukkah ornaments, because technically they are.

I’m doing my best to make sure that my children have a fun Sukkot this year.  Come Christmas time, we’ll hopefully remember how we played, sang, danced, ate treats, and even got to build and decorate an entire sukkah.

Photo: Aaron_M

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