After almost two months of rising to the challenge of repentance and renewal, granting one another second chances for each other and ourselves, we getA writ of divorce. Traditionally, only a man can grant his wife a get. Liberal Jews have amended this tradition, making divorce more egalitarian. a second to sit down.
Jewish practice gets a bad rap for being “too intellectual, too spiritual” and not embodied enough. In response, may I present SukkotLit. Booths or huts Sukkot is the autumn harvest Festival of Booths, is celebrated starting the 15th of the Jewish month of Tishrei. Jews build booths (sukkot), symbolic of the temporary shelters used by the ancient Israelites when they wandered in the desert. Traditionally, Jews eat and sleep in the sukkah for the duration of the holiday (seven days in Israel and eight outside of Israel). The lulav (palm frond), willow, myrtle, and etrog fruit are also waved together.. It doesn’t get more embodied than ritual practice that allows us to honor the harvest of the earth and of our emotional labor.
Dane Kutler teaches that Sukkot is the real self-care holiday. After the most communally intense part of our year, of a month of heshbon hanefesh (accounting for the soul, a means of taking stock of the year that has past), of apologizing to our dearest ones, of forgiving those who have hurt us, we’re TIRED. We’re raw! It’s a little awkward on Sukkot, the holiday immediately following Yom KippurThe holiest day of the Jewish year and the culmination of a season of self-reflection. Jews fast, abstain from other worldly pleasures, and gather in prayers that last throughout the day. Following Ne'ilah, the final prayers, during which Jews envision the Gates of Repentance closing, the shofar is sounded in one long blast to conclude the holy day. It is customary to begin building one's sukkah as soon as the day ends., to go see our friends and family after pouring our hearts out to them, not to mention pouring our hearts out to God.
The high holy days work because of communal buy-in, and the toll that the holidays take on a community are high. Preparing for all the services, children’s programming, learning and programs, meals, staffing the buildings we meet in, figuring out work schedules to take time off of work, or care for children out of school (or both), manage living in a secular world where the new year isn’t for 3 more months and a world where time stops…a community has to really show up to make it all happen.
Add on top of that apologizing and naming the tense issues in relationships, learning how to forgive and try again, thinking about how it will be different next time? Things are just a little bit…tense right now.
Sukkot teaches us that things don’t have to go back to normal immediately. Relationships processing teshuvah, personal spiritual journeys through lament and rejoicing to God, physical healing… it’s all too abrupt and sudden to just return into the flow of life.
So we get Sukkot, a mega-self-care holiday of building temporary pillow forts, decorating them, and observing my most favorite commandment: sitting down. Honestly!
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ אֱלֹקֵינוּ רוּחַ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְווֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְשֵׁב בַּסֻּכָּה
Barukh Atah Adonai Eloheinu RuakhLit. Spirit. Some new versions of blessings call God "Spirit of the World" (Ruakh Ha’olam), rather than "King of the World" (Melekh Ha'olam). HaOlam, asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’shev b’SukkahLit. hut or booth A temporary hut constructed outdoors for use during Sukkot, the autumn harvest festival. Many Jews observe the mitzvah of living in the Sukkah for the week of Sukkot, including taking their meals and sleeping in the Sukkah..
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Spirit of the Universe who has made us holy with your mitzvotLit. Commandment. It is traditionally held that there are 613 mitzvot (plural) in Judaism, both postive commandments (mandating actions) and negative commandments (prohibiting actions). Mitzvah has also become colloquially assumed to mean the idea of a “good deed." and commanded us to sit in the Sukkah.
After almost two months of rising to the challenge of repentance and renewal, granting one another second chances for each other and ourselves, we get a second to sit down.
An eight-day festival, to eat together, sing together, sleep alongside one another.
When I come out of a meditation or after lighting ShabbatShabbat is the Sabbath day, the Day of Rest, and is observed from Friday night through Saturday night. Is set aside from the rest of the week both in honor of the fact that God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. On Shabbat, many Jews observe prohibitions from various activities designated as work. Shabbat is traditionally observed with festive meals, wine, challah, prayers, the reading and studying of Torah, conjugal relations, family time, and time with friends. candles, it can be hard to re-open my eyes. I was just inside such a safe, warm, perfected world, re-entering my surroundings is too much. So I slowly open my fingers, and open my eyes just a bit, let a little bit of the light shine through, until I have re-acclimated my eyes to the world out there, past my hands.
Of the many rules for the construction of a kosherFit to use or consume under Jewish ritual law. "Kosher" often refers to the food which it is permissible to eat according to Jewish dietary law, but can also mean the suitableness of a Torah scross or mezuzah for proper ritual use. For more on dietary laws, see kashrut. Sukkah there is a rule about the roof. S’khakh, the green leafy covering of the temporary Sukkah structure, must not cover up the whole top. No, we must build a roof sparse enough that we can see the sky, notice the stars at night, see the clouds moving about our safe womb of a Sukkah. Our s’khakh re-acclimated us into the rest of the world, lets us peek through the roof to see what the outside is like, but not have to jump into it immediately.
Ariana Katz is rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, graduating in the spring of 2018. She is a queer white AshkenaziJew of Eastern European descent. The term also refers to the practices and customs associated with this community, often in contrast to Sephardic (Southern European) traditions. femme 4th generation Philadelphian who sees rooted ritual and radical organizing as her Jewish legacy. Ariana was the creator and host of KaddishThe Aramaic memorial prayer for the dead. Mourners recite this prayer at every service, every day, in the presence of a minyan (prayer quorum) over the course of a year (for a parent) or thirty days (for a sibling or offspring). The prayer actually makes no mention of the dead, but rather prays for the sanctification and magnification of God's name., a podcast about death and identity (kaddishpodcast.com). She is a ritual maker and ruckus organizer, and has taught learners ages 3-93 for over a decade. Ariana has served as a volunteer chaplain at Planned Parenthood and currently sits on the Planned Parenthood board of Southeast Pennsylvania. Ariana is training to be a soferet, scribe of sacred Jewish texts. arianakatz.com.