One of the nice things about Sukkot this year is how much it's letting Nomi and me realize that we've become a valued part of our local shul community. For those of you who don't know about the holiday, one of the customs is for us to build little booths in our backyards or porches. The booth is called a sukkah, plural form sukkot, hence the holiday name. We're supposed to take our meals in the sukkah and some folks even go so far as to try to sleep in the sukkah for the duration of the holiday.
The problem we have is that we don't have an appropriate porch or backyard wherein to construct a sukkah. Most years, Nomi and I go to her parents' house for the holiday, because they have a porch where they build their sukkah. But this year I'm reciting Mourner's Kaddish for Mom, which means that I want to be close to a shul so I can daven with a minyan. That meant staying at home, but what would we do for a sukkah?
Well, Jewish communities tend to come together on this problem. For one thing, shuls tend to build sukkot on their own property, so anyone who can't build a sukkah at home can use the one at the shul. But in addition, families that have a sukkah on their property will invite those who don't to come over for the holiday meals. This means that Nomi and I are eating out at the homes of friends for pretty much the next three days, all through to the end of shabbat.
Sukkot doesn't end there, though. The holiday continues through Wednesday, meaning that we'll be at work for three of the days. What to do about meals? Well, as it so happens, a few communities in the cities of Boston and Cambridge build sukkot that folks can use during the day. For example, one of the rebbes builds a sukkah on the plaza of Old City Hall, on School Street. So at lunchtime, we'll be able to enjoy one of those local sukkot. And for dinner, we might go out to eat at one of the kosher restaurants...because they too build sukkot for their patrons to dine in. All in all, it's a wonderful example of a community working together to enjoy a religious observance.
Next week, Sukkot ends with two more holy "yom tov" days, Shemini Atzeret and Simchas Torah. I'll probably post about those next week.