After the ingathering from your threshing floor and your vat, you shall hold the Feast of Booths for seven days . . . for the Lord your God will bless all your crops and all your undertakings, and you shall have nothing but joy. (Deut. 16: 13-17)
You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. (Lev 23: 42-43)
An agricultural feast and a remembrance of the Exodus, the Jewish festival of Sukkot (Booths) has intrigued me for some time. Every fall, walking our dog past the home of our neighbor who is a rabbi, I watch a wooden shed-like structure be assembled in their driveway. Eventually I learned that it is called a sukkah. This year, I am helping my friend Natalie build her sukkah and will have the pleasure of dining in it during Sukkot! There are definite requirements for a sukkah to be kosher, but in particular I find the roof parameters to be quite meaningful: It must be covered with something that grew from the ground and was cut off, such as tree branches, corn stalks, bamboo reeds, etc. They can be laid across wood beams for support but must not be attached. The materials should be loosely spread so as to be open to the heavens, with the stars visible through. Rabbi Irving Greenberg calls the roof covering “the perfect expression of divine protection,” indicating that God is not a shield but “the Presence who gives the strength to persevere, to overcome.” When we discussed Sukkot last fall in my Jewish class, I felt very drawn to the idea of a sukkah, and I am looking forward to experiencing it firsthand.