Oct 8 2014
The harvest festival of Sukkot has arrived. The air is crisp and leaves are everywhere. It’s time sit in huts, and eat under the stars. If you’re lucky you may just catch the lunar eclipse tonight.
And what better way to welcome the holiday than with this adorable new sukkah song from The Macaroons:
Chag Sameach from all of us at Kveller!
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On Sunday afternoon, our family walked around the farm looking for a place to build our sukkah. I like to have a new location each year so we can have distinct memories of each Sukkot.
We chose a sandy spot near the barn on the top of a hill that we called the beach when we first moved in because it is the sandiest soil on the farm. It is a spot where you can grow Mediterranean herbs and not much else, where you can imagine a desert, imagine the land of Israel. Imagine a new home.
Sukkot is always one of our favorite Jewish holidays. We love building our sukkah right on the edge of our fields in the midst of the fall harvest. Sukkot is the perfect holiday for Jewish farmers like us, connecting us directly with farmers from long ago, celebrating the bounty and enjoying the first cool days. Read the rest of this entry →
During Sukkot, we remember how God freed our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. We build sukkahs, flimsy booths meant to recreate the temporary dwellings used while we wandered across the desert, leaving home behind.
I have been on my own wandering journey for about 14 years. I was brought up in a knowledgeable Reform Jewish home. As kids, my siblings and I lived in Upstate New York, and regularly attended temple services. The congregants barely filled two rows of pews if you mashed us all together. I loved it. I loved the hired soloist’s resonant soprano melodies, and the warmth of cuddling up to my father’s corduroy-patched sport coat. I jumped up and down out of my seat a million times, inhaling the rich aroma of coffee and wandering the lobby to sneak glances at the desserts piled high on the kiddush tables.
I knew that when I grew up, I was going to marry a Nice Jewish Boy, even though my parents had never planted the idea in my head. After the requisite years of adolescent angst, which involved piercing things you couldn’t see and dying my hair a variety of vibrant colors, I grew restless. I took a year off of college, worked, and traveled to Israel on a Birthright trip. There, in the city of Jerusalem, I found hope and inspiration. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 6 2014
Last year I performed a magic trick. I made most of my “stuff” disappear. I never considered myself a hoarder, at least not the kind worthy of a feature on late night cable TV, but I held on to things, lots and lots of things, because I was sentimental. I thought getting rid of them meant giving up a memory. I was also convinced I would need all of these things later on. And lots of my stuff was around simply because I had spent so much money on it that I thought I hadn’t realized each item’s value yet. Surely I would need this stuff, use this stuff, wear this stuff, and amortize the cost of this stuff… one day.
My relationship to my stuff changed last year. In September, my husband, two young daughters and I celebrated Sukkot, the festive Jewish holiday commemorating the years the Jews were believed to be wandering in the desert and protected from the elements by God. For the first time, we erected a sukkah (a temporary dwelling) in our tiny backyard and invited friends over for customary meals inside the wood and bamboo structure. Many were familiar with Sukkot but I had to explain to others why I had invited them to eat off of paper plates in a crude tent decorated with my children’s art and fake fruit.
I took to the internet in search of something more than the clunky Wikipedia definition, and found a rabbi’s simple yet beautiful interpretation of this harvest holiday that changed the way I viewed space in my home. She suggested the acts of eating, sleeping, and celebrating in such a simple dwelling should be a reminder to us of how little we need to be happy and how freeing it is to just be with so much less stuff. The metaphor stirred something within me. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 22 2014
My husband and I grew up very differently–I in an Orthodox household that celebrated every single Jewish holiday, and he in a Reform one that acknowledged Passover, saw Rosh Hashanah as a good excuse to make brisket, and suffered through Yom Kippur.
When I began dragging my husband to family gatherings for holidays he’d previously never even heard of, he was a good sport about it–and he still is, when those holidays fall on the weekends. But for the past number of years, the holiday calendar has been particularly cruel to those of us bound by limited time off and jobs that don’t close for Jewish observances. And this year is no exception.
Now I’m not particularly upset about spending my vacation days on the holidays this year, especially since we don’t have any major travel plans. But try convincing someone who grew up the way my husband did that it’s worthwhile using up all your vacation time to celebrate every single holiday our religion boasts. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 18 2013
The 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 →
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
2. Sukkah Tablescape from The Shiksa in the Kitchen Read the rest of this entry →
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
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 →
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:
2. Pom-Pom Garland from 4 Men 1 Lady: Read the rest of this entry →