This week we celebrate the exciting holiday of Sukkot, or the Festival of Booths. This is a holiday that reminds us of the time of the Torah when our people wandered through the desert living in impermanent dwellings such as huts or sukkot! Imagine living in your sukkah year round.

The holiday of Sukkot reminds us how fortunate we are to live in a permanent shelter or dwelling, like our houses or apartments. Their stability is what helps it feel like a home. We’re often so busy we forget to be thankful for the everyday necessities we have, such as our homes. Similar to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Sukkot is a time  to “wake up” and recognize the good in our lives and pledge to be better this coming year.

One of the most interesting “obligations” or mitzvot of the holiday Sukkot is that we are required to celebrate! How can we be required to celebrate? After  Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we have been granted another chance to be better this year. Because of this, we are told to celebrate with family and friends in our Sukkot (plural of sukkah). This is also a little sneak preview of our 5th Jewish value that will be showing up in our curriculum around March this year, HaKarat Ha Tov (seeking joy and being grateful)

One of the most well known rituals that we do on sukkot is shaking the lulav and the etrog. These are referred to as the Four Species. They include a palm branch (lulav), willow leaves (Aravot), myrtle (Hadasim), and a citron fruit (the etrog). There are many interpretations as to why we have these four species, but one in particular speaks to all of us here at ShalomLearning, and we think it will resonate with you as well.

There is a teaching that the four species represent different types of Jewish people and families. Each of the species is very different as are Jewish families. There are some Jewish people and families that go to synagogue every week, there are some Jewish families who are not members of synagogues, there are some Jewish families who are just Jewish “by birth” and there are some Jewish people who self identify in their own way

Each of these types of Jewish people finds a connection to the Jewish community in their own way, but when we bring all of the “species” or different types of Jewish people together we get a more diverse, vibrant, and pluralistic community. We at ShalomLearning feel that the way to bring all types of Jewish people together is through Jewish learning. No matter how you identify or celebrate your Jewishness, ShalomLearning is a place that welcomes you and your family through Jewish learning.

Each of the four species is a special and unique plant or object on its own, but when we bring all four of them together in our celebration of Sukkot, we experience a more beautiful and holy holiday. So too, when we bring all types of Jewish people and families together we experience a fuller and more beautiful Jewish community.

May this Sukkot bring you and your family joy, happiness, and more ShalomLearning!

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