The Jewish holiday season continues. It’s not just Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur folks, there’s a couple more to squeeze in this month. Sukkot started on Monday night. Simchat Torah is around the corner.. we should be pretty busy about now, but you know..
We did not build a sukkah in the back yard this year. Much to the next door neighbors delight we do not have what looks like a cardboard shack made out of corn shocks and fruit hanging to look at for the next week. Shame too because I always enjoyed having one. The sukkah is a booth if you will, that Jews build this week to observe the holiday of Sukkot, aka the Jewish version of Thanksgiving.
The sukkah, or booth, is a nice way to express your creative juices, inner architect if you will. There are no rules about the construction, other than you have to be able to see the stars through the roof. This reinforces the idea that this is a temporary structure. In California, and in Israel, the traditional roofing materials are palm fronds. They are nice and long, sturdy and can be laid across the top the thing while still allowing you to see through them to the sky. In Minnesota palm fronds a little hard to come by, but corn shocks are readily available and make a nice regional statement that says; Midwest.
Corn shocks aren’t perfect however. Three years ago after spending the day with family building a lovely sukkah on the deck I came home from work one afternoon to find the thing almost completely destroyed, courtesy of the local squirrels who had left the thing alone for the first three days, and then realized that the fat guy wasn’t there in the daytime, and literally shredded it our beautiful sukkah. Looked like a bomb had gone of inside it.
Traditional Jews will take all of their meals out on the sukkah. We are not that traditional. We live in Minnesota. The word “snow” was included in the forecast for the first time this week. For Mrs S, “snow” and “eat outside” contradictory terms. For me, unless I’m ice fishing, when eating outside is a nice way to flip Mother Nature the bird, I don’t wanna do it either. Makes my coffee cold.
Thursday we’re supposed to go from highs in mid 70’s to highs in low 40’s and hard freezes at night. I’m not sure that bundling up in a parka and gloves to eat my bowl of cereal outside at 5:30 in the morning will do much to connect me to my faith. But then again, I’ve never tried it.
And as I mentioned, we didn’t build one this year. In the past I’ve had the boys around to help, especially the middle kid who is extremely handy with tools and design. Without him around I lost the mojo. I also lost all the muslin I used for the exterior the last several years, and I lost some of the lattice I put on top. The convergence of these circumstances provided me with the perfect excuse to watch football all day on Sunday and not bother with to take on this project.
I am weak.
The good news is one of our local grocers, Byerlys, has built one in their patio so if I want to keep the commandments I can always run over there and do it. (the commandment meaning say the blessing and do this thing with a bouquet of tree branches a citron. This being the only use of the citron that I know off.) And if that’s to much of bother the Synagogue has built a “drive through” sukkah this year where you can meet all the obligations of the holiday whilst sitting in your car, presumably with the heater on since it’s going to be quite chilly this weekend.
If we lived in New York I could have gone, and I kid you not on this, to Sukkas R Us and bought one. Neat idea until you checked out with $1200 of PVC and canvas that you could have purchased at Home Depot for $50.00. Oy vey, (Offda for those of you in Northfield) Buddy Ken in Northfield sent me a note this Sunday, apparently Sukkah building comes right after slicing bagels on the list of causes of accidental injuries which bring middle aged Jewish guys to the ER. Ah, the bagel, or as I always say, the hand surgeons favorite breakfast treat.
Well, I guess I’m going to have to check off yet another holiday in the “unobserved” column. The good news is I’m not alone. 90% of Jews don’t build a booth or buy the bouquet and oddball lemon. For the vast majority of us, a sukkah is that thing they build behind the shul, which most of us take a passing notice of when we pick up and drop off time at religious school.
I mean who can blame us non-observant types right? We just got done with a 25 hour fast and somewhere between 2 and 12 solid hours of pew time for Yom Kippur, (depending on your level of atonement and tolerance for shul time) and now there’s another holiday? Seems we could space these out a bit.
AHh who am I kidding… no more rationalizing, next year I’m planning a little better and we will see the return of the Sank-a-sukka. Now that I realize I have no help… I’ll make sure we’re ready. Chag Samaiach to my Jewish friends.. Happy fall to the rest of youse.