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Why I Spent Monday Night in a Shack

Not identifying as Jewish, I don’t celebrate many of the Jewish holidays my wife – the Velveteen Rabbi – does. I tend to pick holidays selectively, choosing the ones that involve feasts over the ones that involve fasts. I’ll happily cook Rosh Hashonah dinner and let Rachel handle the atoning for both of us on Yom Kippur. (Similarly, she’s good about leaving the more theologically demanding Christian holidays to me…)

But I hadn’t encountered Sukkot until this year. A Jewish harvest festival, it’s not one of the major highlights of the liturgical calendar – TV stations don’t run cute little ads wishing their Jewish viewers a happy Sukkot. But once I heard the rules – build a shack in the field with a roof made of corn stalks and eat your meals in it for a week – I found it a hard holiday to resist.

So I spent part of Monday afternoon turning the frame of the ger we built last winter (see my brief essay, “Behold the Power of String” if you’re curious what a ger is and why we seem to build one each winter) into a sukkah, the roughly made shack one eats meals in during Sukkot, and then cooking dinner to eat in it.

Rachel blogs all this in far more detail, with photos, on her blog – if you’re curious what a ger-based sukkah looks like, and why – theologically – it’s useful to spend a week eating meals in a leaky shack, read her post.

3 thoughts on “Why I Spent Monday Night in a Shack”

  1. Sukkot actually is one of the major holidays. Things get rather twisted here in the US, where commercial attention is focused on “the holiday season”, so they over-hype a relatively minor Jewish holiday (Chanuka) to the general public for its coincidentally convenient placement on the calendar. In Israel, Sukkot is a much bigger deal than Chanuka. The really big holidays are Rosh Hashana / Yom Kipur, Sukkot, and Pesach (passover). Chanuka is lower status than Tu B’Shvat; it’s treated at about the same level as Lag ba`Omer IIRC. If either of those happened to fall around Thanksgiving & Christmas they’d be the ones the TV stations ran ads about. I mean sure, Chanuka is kinda fun, and has lots of songs, but Lag ba`Omer has big bonfires! It’s totally fun!

  2. Ahhhhh- _that’s_ what it is. Every year I see little huts in front of the houses in a neighborhood around a local temple. I always meant to find out what it was, but I forgot by the time I got home. These were a little different than yours (well, they obviously weren’t gers for starters)- they’re rectangular and covered in white cloth.

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