The following blog first appeared Friday, September 28, 2018, as an email update from Keith Krivitzky, CEO, the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I used to call it the fort holiday. Sukkot reminded me of the forts we used to build as kids to hang out in...and then launch attacks on the other kids’ forts. Plus the lulav sword and etrog grenade added to the martial theme.
As adults, or at least in the “real” world, we build sukkot to dwell in during the holiday. The idea is that shelter is temporary, and we are putting our faith in the Lord’s hands...especially as the weather is about to turn. A nice metaphor.
It’s perhaps a bit ironic that I find this holiday to be one of the most social of Jewish festivals. People go on sukkah-hops, invite friends and guests over for meals and snacks, and seem to be celebrating and sharing a lot with each other. Maybe it’s because by spending time in sukkot people are more exposed and accessible, and as a result they surround themselves with others as an extra layer of support.
I think of how Avraham and Sarah pitched their tent at a crossroads - at a particularly vulnerable and exposed place - and opened their walls/doors to welcome strangers. That takes what we do during Sukkot to an extreme, and it says something important.
In the midst of being vulnerable in these feeble dwellings, we welcome and engage with others. That should tell us that life isn’t about hunkering down, it’s about opening up to the world around us. Physical boundaries are not as fixed and firm as we think, and our well-being and security doesn’t just come from walls and boundaries. Strength comes from looking out beyond our walls, being comfortable enough to welcome others in, and from the bonds and unity we build with others. That, plus God looking out for us, is where true security and shelter comes from.
Which is what peoplehood is all about. And the Jewish Federation is about taking care of our family, from providing shelter and security to those in need, and welcoming in others in our tribe who may not know what they need.
With everything else going on, and distractions in NY and DC, focusing on the joy and meaning of this holiday makes life a little easier. Thank you to all those who have supported the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ during these high holidays.
With that, some reads for the long holiday weekend:
- What’s the first step?: https://www.timesofisrael.com/abbass-forlorn-we-made-no-mistakes-speech-sounds-like-a-swan-song/
- Everyone keeps telling me to watch Fauda…ok: https://www.timesofisrael.com/fauda-screenwriter-wanted-to-depict-terrorists-as-real-human-beings/
- In contrast to sukkot: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/arts/color-factory-museum-of-ice-cream-rose-mansion-29rooms-candytopia.html
- Worth pondering: https://www.businessinsider.com/itzik-frid-why-israel-has-so-few-arab-led-startups-2018-9
- Part of the challenge we are dealing with: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/09/20/a-michigan-professor-supported-a-students-study-abroad-application-until-he-realized-israel-was-her-destination/
- Video daily double watch this: http://rabbisacks.org/antisemitism-hate-become-dangerous-three-things-happen-rabbi-sacks-speaks-house-lords/
Best for a Shabbat shamim and a chag sameach...a happy holiday.
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