Keeping all our sukkot strong
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Keeping all our sukkot strong

Temple Beth Sholom, Fair Lawn, Conservative

We experience an extension of the spirit of the High Holidays as we celebrate Sukkot, and Shemini Atzeret and rejoice on Simchat Torah. The generic name is the plural Sukkot, because every Jew is expected to build a sukkah at his or her house if they have space for it.

Sukkot refers also to a different type of sukkah that is not made with traditional materials. These are sukkot built in the realm of spirituality.

When the Jews sojourned through the desert for 40 years they dwelt in these precarious booths — a hard wind could tear them down. So, the Israelites had to strengthen that weak structure in order to maintain it erect and serve its purpose of being a shelter and a home.

I suggest that we need to strengthen the little state of Israel, which stands like a little sukkah in the wilderness with threatening neighbors, the will of terrorist groups, and the Iranian government’s desire to wipe her off of the face of the Earth.

Everything counts:

Sending money to Israel.

Participating in missions and just traveling for the sake of tourism (so sad to know Jews that never visited, but were many times to Paris, Spain, etc.).

Sending our children to Israel with one or more of the different youth group opportunities.

Encouraging our children to consider attending university in Israel as an option.

And how about considering making aliyah ourselves?

There is another spiritual sukkah: our homes. Our Jewish homes are like a precarious sukkah in the wilderness of a non-Jewish society. Strengthen our Jewish homes before the wind of assimilation destroys them. Teach our children Jewish values. Provide them the best Jewish education possible, both religious and Zionist. Increase the observance of Shabbat and Holy Days in our homes by making them a family endeavor. Eat the Jewish way: kosher.Today the kosher offerings in our area are so huge that I suggest using our freedom of choice to choose … Jewish.

All of these actions support this sukkah. It is crucial, for Jewish continuity, that we understand that in Judaism, the less you do, the less you become. Let’s enjoy the “change for the better” spirit of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by making a commitment to put more Judaism in our lifestyles.

And the third spiritual sukkah is our congregations. After our homes, our shul is also like a sukkah in the wilderness of an environment of non-Jewish opportunities.

By strengthening these spiritual sukkot we will feel that the little sukkah we have inside, our neshama, so often surrounded by the winds of hatred, selfishness and vanity, will grow to a higher spiritual level. Our souls need also to be decorated with beautiful adornments — compassion, friendship, loving-kindness, and love. Hashem gave as the tools to achieve them: fulfilling and full-living mitzvot.

May we build the most beautiful sukkot for the coming year.

Chag Sameach!

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