Sukkot in a western redcedar

redcedar branches

And the tree of life in the midst of the garden – was a cypress. Cupressus sempervirens. Touched by the four winds, it blossomed forth souls.

The tree of life on the west coast is also a cypress. Thuja plicata. The western redcedar. The wood provided shelter and transportation. Its supple inner bark, clothing. Roots became rope or thread. It provided life. It still does.

I like to press my face against its soft stringy bark – sometimes speckled with olive-green club lichen that fruit red in the spring – and inhale deeply. The spicy aroma of the forest rises from it, a smell that reminds me of scouring neighborhoods in the weeks before sukkot for late-season cuttings. We would sit late into the night in our plain wooden sukkah covered by cedar boughs, skies clear and cold or dripping with a never-ending rain – depending on the year – and tell stories, jokes, sing a sukkaleh a kleine until the cups of tea and licorice liqueur no longer kept us warm.

Palm branch, citron fruit, twigs of myrtle and willow. But I wish to take a redcedar frond, salal and spirea, and pacific crab apple and bring them together, make the blessing, and shake them in the six directions.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Ritualwell content is available for free thanks to the generous support of readers like you! Please help us continue to offer meaningful content with a donation today. 

Related Rituals

Shop Ritualwell - Discover unique Judaica products

The Reconstructionist Network

Serving as central organization of the Reconstructionist movement

Training the next generation of groundbreaking rabbis

Modeling respectful conversations on pressing Jewish issues

Curating original, Jewish rituals, and convening Jewish creatives

Count On Telling Your Story: A Ritualwell In-Person Immersion

Join us for Count On Telling Your Story: A Ritualwell In-Person Immersion on Sunday, June 9th. Mix and mingle with old and new friends, enjoy delicious kosher-vegetarian food and engage in a variety of creative, thought-provoking sessions exploring rituals, writing, and art.

Get the latest from Ritualwell

Subscribe for the latest rituals, online learning opportunities, and unique Judaica finds from our store.

The Reconstructionist Network