Post by shocheradam on Oct 5, 2014 12:21:37 GMT -5
So, it's been a while since I've posted here. Shana Tovah, everyone! I hope you had a sweet Rosh Hashanah and an easy fast on Yom Kippur yesterday.
I have a conundrum. I took Rosh Hashanah off and canceled my classes. I've been given a stern warning not to do that again unless I don't care if I have a job in the spring. I can't afford to lose my job. I am the primary breadwinner in my household. So I can't just say "Screw you, boss, I'm going to take Sukkot off and you can deal." I can't. If I do, I will be out of a job next semester.
I also live in a second-floor apartment. I have no balcony to speak of, and no porch or yard, so building a sukkah is out of the question. And, of course, due to the timing, all of my temple's Sukkot celebrations are happening during my work hours, so I can't even go to those.
I need some guidance here, and I'm already feeling guilt about not being able to observe the holiday properly. (I'm Reform, by the way, so it won't help me to get Orthodox- or Conservative-flavored suggestions about this. Telling me "quit your job, they're jerks" is not going to fix this problem for me.)
A web search turns up nothing helpful except one blog by Rabbi Adar (http://coffeeshoprabbi.com/2013/09/17/7-questions-about-sukkot/), who says "go on a picnic" or do something else outdoors, or reach out to friends you haven't seen in a while. I can do this - I was already planning to invite friends over for Shabbat during Sukkot - but that's about all I can really do.
Judge not your friend until you stand in his place. - Hillel
Might be too late, but if there is a decent Judaica source in your area, you can buy a lulav and etrog to wave and smell. Might be a bit of a splurge on your budget though since a set is rarely less than $50. You can look up the proper blessings and method of waving them online, although doing it by yourself is not as much fun as waving them at the proper time during the service and marching around in a procession with other synagogue members.
Are you working through the Shabbat in the middle of Sukkot as well? If not, then if your synagogue has Shabbat services they will probably at least make kiddush in the sukkah so that you will be able to spend a little time in a sukkah. Or perhaps your synagogue is open during other times during the week of the holiday such as on Sunday or a weeknight for Hebrew school. Then you might be able to visit at one of those times just to get a little time to "dwell" in a sukkah.
Another idea is based on what a friend of mine described as his mother's attempt to adapt the holiday to the very un-Israel-like weather conditions of Minnesota where it is often really cold and/or wet and unpleasant during Sukkot so you have to be really hardy to have meals in a sukkah. This Jewish mother decorated the walls and ceiling in a corner of their living room with colored paper to vaguely suggest a "sukkah". (This reminds me that I should ask my Orthodox friends who lived in Minnesota when they were children about braving the weather for Sukkot---I'm sure their family had a sukkah and at least made kiddush in it.)
Also, even if you are Reform, if you aren't completely adverse to dealing with Orthodox Jews, if there is a Chabad house in your area, they will certainly have a sukkah open for visitors and a lulav and etrog to lend to visitors to wave and say the blessing. They will not ask you to prove that you are Jewish and even if you did tell them that you are a Reform convert (which I would not, because that's private information) they will probably be happy to allow you to use their sukkah, lulav and etrog. They will probably also try to get you to put on tefillin and say the appropriate blessings. Chabad emissaries are used to dealing with people who are culturally Jewish, but not halachically Jewish (a non-Orthodox convert in their maternal line), and I would think that you'd be in the same category to them. Some of those people later choose to do an Orthodox conversion, so although Chabad doesn't seek these kind of people out, they aren't opposed to those people utilizing their services. (A few years ago, I attended a wedding performed by a Chabad rabbi for the son of a minyan friend for whom that must have been the case. The groom's mother is a Conservative convert, so I'm sure that he must have done an Orthodox conversion after he became "frum" as a teenager. The bride's family is Modern Orthodox and happens to live just a few blocks from my house, although I didn't know them.) Disclaimer: I have never personally interacted with Chabad people, so I base my expectations on what I have heard from other people. The Chabad people who sometimes stand in front of the local grocery store (which is across the street from a Chabad House) do not offer tefillin or lulav to me because I don't "look Jewish" and I have my own lulav at home so I have no interest in using theirs.
Chabad can be a useful source and they will talk to anybody. They won't shake hands with anybody, and they won't eat your food, but they'll TALK! and their services - all of them - are free.
the 'minimum requirement' for Sukkot is to sit in a sukkah, somewhere, sometime, and say the blessing (simple - Blessed are You Lord, ruler of the universe, who commands us to dwell in the sukkah - that's from memory so may not be precisely right).
Bingo. visit somebody or someplace with a sukkah, and go inside it and say the blessing.
It is also traditional to read Ecclesiastes, and that you can do anywhere.
Ah yes, Ecclesiastes, called "Kohelet" in Hebrew. In my congregation, we read Kohelet before the Torah reading on the Shabbat in the middle of Sukkot (or on Shemini Atzeret is there is no Shabbat Chol Hamoed) Here is a link to a Hebrew and English translation: Ecclesiastes 1/Hebrew-English A Pete Seeger song, "Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)" uses the words from Chapter 3 of Kohelet. The Byrds made it into a hit song in the mid-60's which you can hear and read the lyrics at this Youtube link: TURN! TURN! TURN! (Lyrics) - THE BYRDS I remember that there was a Shabbat Chol HaMoed service many years ago where the service coordinator printed out the lyrics on a handout and we sang the song as the one of the Torah scrolls was being wrapped.
Here in Chicagoland, we have had beautiful weather for Sukkot so far: warm enough that just a sweater is needed and it is not unpleasantly cold to eat outside. My family has eaten every dinner and lunch outside in the Sukkah so far since the first night of Sukkot and we had guests for Shabbat lunch. I see from the weather report that there will be rain for the next few days, but I'm satisfied with our use of the sukkah for this year. We like to hang Indian corn from our sukkah ceiling for decoration, but they often don't last long because the squirrels eat them. This year when we found that squirrels had already eaten some kernels on two of four ears of corn, my son suggested putting hot sauce on the corn to repel the squirrels. So as an experiment, I put some extra hot habanero sauce on the string and top kernels of the two ears of corn that had not yet been found. After the spicy ears lasted one extra day, I thought we had discovered the solution, but alas, the next day those corn were gobbled up as well I guess the squirrels just didn't figure out which strings to pull up for those ears for a few days.