The month of September is always a flurry of Jewish Holidays. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur but my all time favorite is Sukkos. For this holiday, we build a hut and eat and some people even sleep in this temporary structure. I don’t have one, but my dad does and it’s always been fun for me as a kid and as an adult to help him put this sukkah up. When I was young, we had a simple sukkah made from steel bars and a yellow and blue canvas walls. I can still remember the smell and the incredible heat inside. As kids we would decorate our sukkah with brightly colored paper chains and shiny hanging decorations that my grandmother would bring from Brooklyn. And you can’t forget about the plastic fruit that was hanging from the makeshift roof of bamboo shoots and branches from the trees in the backyard.
As we got older and when my sister got married and had kids, our family outgrew this small sukkah. My father upgraded and bought a blue and white fiberglass sukkah size 10×12. He even upgraded the style and this new and improved sukkah has 2 windows so that we didn’t suffocate. The single bamboo shoots were traded for bamboo on a roll (so much easier to put up and to store) and the decorations have been traded for hand made projects from the kids. When my sister moved to Israel I know my dad was afraid that this new sukkah was too big for us now, but in the true Jewish way, we have always made sure to fill up our sukkah with friends.
This year was no different. I went with my family and a friend to my moms last night for dinner in the sukkah. When we got there I got a wonderful surprise. My mom invited a friend of mine that I grew up with to have dinner with us. This girl is wonderful. She is smart and funny and so down to earth that I am always happy to see her. She lives in Israel so I rarely get to see her and she is newly engaged. I was so happy to talk to her and even though I haven’t seen her in at least a year, we had plenty to speak about. The entire night was like a game of Jewish geography, and we forgot about everyone else in the room.
The night passed too quickly before I was ready, it was time to go home. I gave my dear old friend a hug and one last Mazel Tov and off I went. I may not be religious at all, but I am so glad I know about the traditions so that I can pass that on to my kids, Even though my parents will be in Florida next year, I will be living in my childhood home (yay it’s no longer for sale) and I am lucky enough that they are leaving the sukkah with me. Now I can pass on this tradition to my kids. Next year, instead of me helping my dad, it will be my kids helping their dad. My daughter and I will put together paper chains and hang up handmade decorations and plastic chains of grapes. They can invite their friends from school to see our special sukkah and really, what’s better than that?