By Laura Seymour
Dear Parents and Children,
The High Holidays are a great time because we reconnect to the synagogue. Yet, most Jewish holidays are filled with ritual and custom that happens in the home. Being part of community is so important but we must not just “do Jewish” at the synagogue.
Sukkot is the holiday that is made for our children! Yes, you can build (or buy) a sukkah and then dwell in it. The mitzvah says “dwell” and that includes eating and sleeping in the sukkah.
For children, this is an exciting holiday with great things to do. The rules are simple for a sukkah as it is supposed to be a temporary dwelling.
Try this mitzvah and you will never give it up. And more importantly, by continuing to put up your sukkah once the children have moved away, you are demonstrating that “building a sukkah” (or any Jewish ritual) is not just for the children. We all can find meaning in every ritual although, perhaps, new and different meanings as we grow older (and wiser).
Another part of the holiday is to invite guests into your sukkah. We are excited when we can practice the Jewish value of “Hachnasat Orchim — Welcoming Guests” and Sukkot is the perfect time.
There are other guests we are to invite as well. The tradition is to invite Ushpizin: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David (one on each night).
Often today, people talk about who else they would like to invite to their sukkah and what possible questions they might ask. Think about who, living or gone, that you would like to have as a “special guest.” It is great Sukkot conversation.
Many years ago I listened to a “piggy back” song from Uncle Moishey. It was the tune to “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmit” and was in Hebrew. To make it easier (and memorable) for our preschoolers, we put it into English — try it:
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, Moses, Aaron and King David
These are the special guests — they’re called the ushpizin
They come to our Sukkah every night — la la la la la la la!
Time went by and it became apparent to many that we were missing some people, so try this one:
Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, Hannah, Debra and Queen Esther
These are other special guests that we all should invite
To come to our Sukkah every night — la la la la la la la!
Now here is your chance — who do you want to invite and put in a song? Send your verses to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and next year you will be honored with a mention in the Sukkot Shabbat Lady!
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.