Taking Down the Succah

Andy Childhood Succah
pictured clockwise from upper right: Dr. Ada Goldfarb – Andy’s aunt, Rabbi Daniel Goldfarb - Andy’s uncle, a family friend and Myra Outwater, Andy’s mother, 1973

by Myra Outwater (of blessed memory, written some time during the 1980s)

For a while we have something special in our house. We feel a closeness and a feeling of unity with the ancient Israelites and Jews of all the years. We feel content with God’s blessings and with the knowledge that we have the freedom to worship as we want. Then the holiday is over and it is time to tear it down. Yet I always procrastinate. This year I kept it up for two more weeks and reluctantly decided tomorrow would be the day. Then I got a reprieve, as my husband invited someone over to see it – an older Jewish couple, who were so touched to see a succah today. They were very moved to see us, the younger generation, recreating something from their past in this very modern present.

Now I feel I have again seen the cycle of life and it is time now to tear the succah down for this year. I think of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (which we read during the Sabbath of Succot):

There is a time to build and a time to tear down that which was built and there is nothing new under the sun. Eventually, all that was ever true before will be true and have meaning again. For all those who think they can find a new meaning to life. They are wrong. It’s all there.

My succah is down now and there are only boards lying in the garage. The magic is gone. All the beauty was in the succah and not in the boards. The word dismemberment comes to my mind again and think of the slogan of the Jewish Federation this year. We are one. We are stronger and more meaningful as we work together then as individuals. Just as we come together in times of panic and threat, the sacred space of the succah provides us with a common sanctuary.