My Shoebox Sukkah Sorta Sucked, But Happy Sukkot Anyway!

posted Friday September 24th, 2010

This year we blew right past Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with no more than a dip of honey and a toot on a party horn (my mother’s idea of a shofar), so I figured we’d celebrate Sukkot.

Sukkot is a relatively minor Jewish holiday — sort of an Arbor Day, or maybe more like Thanksgiving. It’s meant to celebrate the fruit harvest.

I celebrated by noticing that the kumquat tree in our front yard is dying.

Terrific. I don’t have a lot of memories of my own Jewish education, but I do fondly recall a Sukkot or two. There are several traditions, including symbols (one looks like a lemon, the other a palm frond) called a lulav and an etroth. The big thing is that you are supposed to build a little hut in your backyard — to symbolize being closer to the harvest and all that — and eat your meals in it all week. According to Wikipedia, there’s a special dispensation: You are not required to eat in the Sukkah if it’s raining. That’s official in the scripture (or whatever we Jews call it); it’s not just a Wikipedia thing.

I love that. It reminds me of the time in fourth or fifth grade that I wanted to fast for Yom Kippur and my mother said of course, just be sure you eat a good breakfast first. Or my friend Cindy’s parents’ condo in Florida, which has a “Shabbas Elevator.” On the Sabbath, you are not to exert energy, so you can’t press the buttons of an elevator. These folks solved that problem by making elevators that stop on every floor, up and down. Just in case. Hey, what’s the rush? You’re supposed to be resting.

It all makes sense to me. Hey, 40 days in the desert and all that. We’ve suffered enough. No one wants to eat in a wet Sukkah

Back to Sukkot. You can build a Sukkah (um, yeah, I can’t even find time to clean off the table on the back patio, let alone erect a structure out there) or go to a temple where there’s one (that’s out, too) or, in my case, drive to north Scottsdale to your dear friend’s house. (Schedules didn’t work this year.)

I decided to build a shoebox Sukkah instead.

I was probably Annabelle’s age the last time I did it, and again, I have found memories — probably because building a shoebox Sukkah is a lot like making a doll house and I love miniatures. I unearthed some fruit-shaped beads (see?! it pays to hoard craft supplies!) and got to work, my loving children at my side.

Well, for about five  minutes.

Somehow the mother/daughter craft I envisioned didn’t happen that way. In the end, I wound up stringing fruit beads, cutting construction paper leaves and employing the assistance of Jeanine — our former babysitter, who is not Jewish and had never heard of Sukkot but is more adept than I with scissors and and glue, and happened to be town for a couple days and over for dinner, the evening of the Sukkah-making — to build the table and chairs out of cardboard.

The finished product is not bad, though it appears to be done by a 9-year-old, not an almost 44-year-old, and it’s all-brown, which made it hard to photograph.

Still, you get the picture.

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Tags: Filed under: arts and crafts, holidays, judaism by Amysilverman

4 Responses to “My Shoebox Sukkah Sorta Sucked, But Happy Sukkot Anyway!”

  1. Hm. Kinda looks like a manger scene. The cherries look like a teeny version o’ them things drugstore cowboys dangle offa their mostly unused trailer hitch. Oilcloth still lookin’ gud.

  2. it’s true that i was obsessed with manger scenes as a child, particularly the baby doll. i told the pre school teacher i had a great name for my unborn sister: little baby jesus. jesus silverman.

  3. Hey, Nice job on the Sukkah!
    Little Louie made on in preschool out of a strawberry container!
    What are you doing for Simchat Torah?

  4. ahhhhh! the hits keep coming!!! maybe we’ll make torahs with toilet paper rolls….

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