Posted Tue, 09/28/2021 - 13:48 by Robert

Sukkot is the festival of rejoicing, in its days Jews commemorate G-d’s guardianship of the Jewish people when they sojourned in the desert (Leviticus 23:43). Many bring together the Four Species (lulav palm branch, hadas myrtle, arava willow and etrog citron) as a symbol of a unity, one which recognises the need for difference and the ultimate beauty of variety. The structural instability of the Sukkah (hut) itself resembles an existential Jewish state of wandering, and the many biblical commandments to love the stranger for you were strangers.
With three walls at a minimum, space is left for an open side - through which guests can be ushered, new and ancient, to join. Sukkot expel their builders from safe spaces, and yet, there is no happier place than the sukkah; for in truth home is a sum of who we have in it. The stranger is no stranger at all, but a mirror image of our own experience. Delicate, temporary and vulnerable to the elements, the Sukkah symbolises dependence on G-d, but also on each other, on the safety of our societies, and on the trust we have in our environment. Sukkot strip away luxuries and a false sense of invincibility and instruct those within them to rejoice utterly and openly in that liminal and temporary space between comfort and desert.

Sukkot this year is ever more pertinent. As the world watches refugees flee Afghanistan, and continues to confront COVID, we are mindful of the precarious treasure of life as we know it. We are called to focus on the need for consistent care of those in desperate circumstances, and the warmth of homely joy found in strange places. A humble acceptance of the universal human need for help, the Sukkah is a sign of hope in the outstretched arm of the divine. More than this, Sukkot is manifestation of permanent insecurity, a promise to remember our dependence on each other and the unity of all people in the procurement of true serenity.

Avigail Simmonds-Rosten

CCJ Programme Manager