There is an important announcement in the P.S., which is where anything of value in this column usually ends up anyway. See if you can control your desire to see what is there – delayed gratification they tell me is a sign of advanced maturity.
Sukkot is winding down. It began for me with true proof of the adage, shver tzu zein a Yid, that it is hard to be a Jew. It’s Wednesday late morning, erev Sukkot. I have already written to you and taught my Parshah class. I have no schach for the roof of my sukkah and the clock is ticking. Schach has to be organic, like the bamboo I usually use. But bamboo is so messy and shrivels up to non kosher status (=doesn’t cover half the roof) within seconds of being put up. Since I am cutting back on high fructose corn syrup, the Men’s Club corn stalk deal didn’t resonate either. So the stand of Leyland Cypress that the previous owner put up to shield our house from the next door neighbor’s comes into view. It is fifty feet tall and growing out of control and needs a good trim. The very neighbor offers to help. Because it requires ladders and chopping up big limbs, it’s a two-man job. We start around noon. I have an hour available for this, after which I have hours of shul work that cannot wait and I will just barely be ready for 6:30 minyan to welcome the Chag. The neighbor decides this is a chain saw job. Hasn’t used his in a while. Half-hour later it is working. Within minutes we have cut down more than enough for my schach needs. But the neighbor thinks the stand of trees looks ragged and would benefit from a little trimming here and there. To make a long story short, after three hours we are done, with the Cypress looking good and enough schach for fifteen sukkahs laid out, but the rest of my day’s work is still awaiting me. It was only with the grace of G-d (Jews don’t usually talk about “grace” but it was that) that the work gets done and I get cleaned up and to shul by 6:30. But I have yet to recover from the stress and it’s six days later.
Sukkot ends with three special days. Today is Hoshanah Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkot where we make extra hoshanot(circumambulation prayers) in the chapel with our lulavim, after which we will beat our willows into the ground, symbolically removing (hopefully) the last vestiges of the regrets and shortcomings that we have been working to shed all these days since Rosh Hashanah. We say that Yom Kippur is the last repentance opportunity, but actually we have till today. Tonight is Shemini Atzeret, a mysterious full holiday that either concludes Sukkot or is a separate holiday of its own, take your pick. It is best known as the beginning date for six months of prayers for rain and for the Yizkor memorial service that is included in the morning service (at the 7:00AM or 9:30AM service). Then tomorrow night is Simchat Torah with lots of Torah dancing and candy bars and schnapps. Friday morning is more of the same and aliyot for everyone and our honoring Marci Kanstoroom and Craig Futterman for service to the congregation. And then, because we shouldn’t have too much of a good thing, there are no holidays till Chanukah. The spacing remains problemmatical.
Moadim L’Simchah, a happy Sukkot to you. Next week we begin a new thread. Bill Rudolph
P.S. This year we have decided to democratize our debriefing on High Holiday services. Sid Groeneman, a survey and market research consultant who is a Beth El member, helped us design a survey monkey to get your feedback. Please help us know what is working and what needs to work better. And please do so before you have forgotten totally about the services, let us say by October 1. I took the survey and it was 5 minutes. If you want to write some comments, it will be longer. If something is not covered, write to me at the address below. Thanks in advance for doing the survey. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/highhholidayssurvey