Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah & Simchat Torah

Entering G-d’s Hut
Infusing Meaning Into Everyday Moments
The sukkah is a temporary dwelling. But that dosen’t mean the experience is limited to one week.
I Never Thought I’d Have My Own Sukkah
That diffident child peering through the fence at her neighbors never dreamed that when she grew up, she would one day have the joy of sitting in her own sukkah year after year.
Letting Go to Move Forward: A Lesson From the Mission to Mars
Throughout your life, you will have many missions. What have you completed, and what is there to begin at this new stage of life?
How a Rock Song Started Me on My Journey
thank the Byrds for their introduction to a lesson in Kohelet, Ecclesiastes.
Thirsting for Connection During COVID
Over the last many months, so many of the things that we thought we needed to connect to G‑d and spirituality haven’t been possible.
How Simchat Torah in Tokyo Touched My Faith
The table was crowded with people I wouldn’t expect to see at a Chassidic gathering.
7 Paradoxes About the Sukkah That Help Us Break Through Illusions
We depend on our touchstones: psychological security, a stable income, protection from crime. Clothing, food, warm shelter
How I Managed a Very Awkward Shiva Call
Happiness is peace of mind and knowing, “This is what G‑d wants for me right now. This is what He wants me to be doing or not doing, feeling or not feeling.”
The Case of the Missing Etrog
On the cosmic mitzvah scale there really is no difference if I make a blessing over my lulav-and-etrog set, or if that same set is used by a Jew on the streets of Brooklyn.... mitzvah = mitzvah, right?
What’s Better than a Bottle of Wine?
A Metaphorical Journey Into Pleasure and Acceptance
Sometimes, what we crave is refreshing, restorative water to slake our thirst … like a Jew’s soul thirsts to reconnect to its G-dly source.
Alone and in Love
Reflections on Shemini Atzeret
It’s hard work nowadays, isn’t it? To turn everything off and just be present with one.
What Moving for the 10th Time Taught Me About Happiness
What we physically own or possess is not what brings true happiness.
The Simple Power of Giving
Each person has something to offer. Each person has a talent or gift that can help another.
Who Controls the Weather?
What is our responsibility toward the environment? To what lengths must we go to protect open spaces or endangered species? And are we at fault for natural disasters?
The Peasants' Journey
G‑d created many spiritual worlds filled with angels, who have a sophisticated understanding of spirituality. Beneath these spiritual worlds is the physical world, where we human beings exist. We have almost no awareness of G‑dliness at all, but we sustain all of the spiritual worlds with our mitzvahs.
In My Creator's Arms
How can I, a wife and mother of four, who works with many wonderful women and has many wonderful friends, thank G‑d, dare to say that at times, yes, I feel so, so alone?
Dancing with Fire
Isn’t it strange for rabbis, leaders and learned men to make a spectacle of themselves? Is it not demeaning?
Surrender in the Supermarket
I’ve fallen into this trap one too many times. The I-am-invincible-and-can-do-everything trap. Every time I fall into it, I am reminded that I can’t do it alone. No one can!
Happiness: For Those of Us Who Enjoy a Good Sulk
Whether it’s hormones, lazy self-indulgence, childhood conditioning, or some toxic brew of the three, I have a gravitational pull toward seeing the cup as half empty.
The Home Without a Mezuzah
No matter where the location, no matter what type of apartment we moved into, one thing stayed the same—the mezuzah we affixed to our door.
A Backpack Full of Kisses
“This morning I put a sandwich and carrot sticks in your bag, so that you won’t be hungry. Do you know what I am going to put in now? Kisses! And hugs! And smiles! Lots and lots of them! When you begin to feel sad in school, then you just open up the bag a little bit and put your cheek on the hole, and kisses and hugs will fly at you!”
Our Harvest
The purpose of life is to end up where we began. The final destination of the soul is firmly rooted in its inception—the spark of G‑d preceding the cosmic descent into the physical world, the essential self achieved when the potential meets the actual . . .
In His Arms
Sukkot and My Baby Boy
And there I am, perched on the edge of birth and death, merged into each other. How can it be? I am terrified. I am so far from my potential. How often have I devoted my life to the mundane details of the day? And now here I am. About to be judged. And I have no merits. No evidence. What do I have?
The Wonder of the Willow
The Simplicity of Hoshana Rabbah
The tree gives no fruit and the leaves give off no fragrance. Yet it is precisely in that “blandness” of being that we recognize the presence of something beyond. The willow’s minimalism is indicative of the inner point of the Jewish soul which is indivisible and thus empty of discernable distinctive qualities…
What Massage Therapy Taught Me About Simchat Torah
For maximum effect, you need to deal with your 'challenge' from all sides. You need to focus the setting, gather your energy beforehand and then dispense it evenly and deliberately. A sudden spill of forceful energy in one area will never equate to careful attention to all details...
Celebrating Sukkot From Nairobi to Israel
I naturally connected to the concept of transience, the devitalization of the material. It fitted in with my psyche neatly: I was the girl who never noticed the fashion, who never visited the malls. I was the girl who meditated instead of watching Dallas on TV...
The Only Real Home
She motioned me to sit on a bench next to the table covered by a white cloth. And then she sat down next to her husband who stood at the head of the table. Here was all of their furniture—two benches, a table, and the mattresses stacked up against the wall of the succah...
Sheltering Me From My Own Inner Walls
Lessons on Sukkot From Inside a Bomb Shelter
My most potent Sukkot memory didn't happen on Sukkot at all, but it has all of the important Sukkot ingredients: unity, protection, joy, and faith...
A Peaceful Dwelling
Finding Beauty in Our Differences
We tied everything with thick twine, and we watched the stars through the green branches, smelled figs and roses through the thin walls...
The Sukkahs in My Life
Connecting to My Past, Present, and Future
Sometimes I imagine my grandparents' sukkahs in the courtyards and on the rooftops of the Lower East Side tenement buildings. I think of the sukkahs in Poland and Hungary before the war; maybe they were also once covered in pure, white snow. Maybe my great- great-grandparents sat across from one another in their own first year of marriage in a tiny sukkah filled with light...
Four Species Visualization
A meditation for the sukkah
You are sitting in a sukkah. Its walls are panels of fragrant wood. On the floor beneath you dance patterns of light and shade, cast by the sechach, the scented roof of leaves above your head. Take a deep breath. Imbibe the peace within your sukkah’s walls . . .
Lessons From a Temporary Supermom
The Meaning of Sukkot
Why would I, on one of the few times I could travel without any children, put myself in a situation where I am caring for a baby? And why would I be so quick to want to take care of Zoe, a little girl I don’t know and will most likely never see again, when I didn’t seem to have that kind of time, patience or ability for my own baby?
Slums and Stones
The Meaning of the Sukkah
They're given different names depending on the country that hosts them. Bustees in India, pueblos jovenes in Peru. Shanty towns if you want to odorize the concept. "Slums" if you call it like it is...
My Homeless Experience
A Sukkot Lesson
As I sit back in my chair behind my large oak desk, waiting for Windows to load, I wonder when I had become so conceited. Where had this feeling of superiority come from? What is it that makes me believe, for even a fleeting moment, that I am better than those two men?
Sukkot in Voronezh
While I can say that I always loved the exotic palm scent that permeates the whole festival, always enjoyed the elbowing and squashing that comes with a sukkah packed to capacity, and the rainwater that cooled and diluted our soup, I can never say I treasured the sukkah—until this year . . .
A New Perspective
Lessons From the Sukkah
The three-year-old stood in her living room and carefully held the camera in her small hands. "Smile, Mommy!" Snap. We gathered around to see the digital image on the small screen. My friend was a giant, her head framed by the ceiling light fixture. "Wow," she said, startled. "This is how she sees me. I tower over her!"
The Women's Balcony
A Sukkot Experience
“I want to know why the women aren’t allowed to dance with the men.” My anger sounded to my own ears flat, bold, the way I wanted it . . .
Joy for Another
A Simchat Torah Lesson
How could I feel such happiness, and feel as though their joy was my joy? I know that in part it’s because I prayed for it. When you pray for another person, it brings you closer to them, and one Jew’s joy is all of Israel’s joy, one Jew’s pain is all of Israel’s pain . . .
After the High
Internalizing the Holidays
The children cut out a paper suitcase and four pieces of paper. They are asked to reminisce about everything that happened over the holidays, and to draw four things that they want to carry with them. They place these four drawings in their "suitcase" to keep them company in the months ahead...
The soldier stared at the boy, fighting back tears. "Over these four terrible years, this is the first live Jewish child I have seen..."
The Jewish Woman and the Festivals
A Beacon of Light
In our lifetime, we do not have the luxury of sitting back and hoping someone else will take over the reins. We, the Jewish women of our generation, must be leaders. In many ways, the reins are in our hands. As the saying goes, the buck stops here. We must persevere, learn and speak up...
What a Trip to Israel Taught Me About Sukkot
The Jewish definition of joy is anticipating the future. We are joyful because we are planning, through hard work, to have a future together...
Sukkot Recipes
Sukkot Foods
Kreplach, challah, compote, and other traditional and delicious Sukkot recipes.
The Sukkah and My Son: The Sky’s the Limit
It’s a balancing act of holding on and letting go. A balancing act of loving your child so much that you encircle him with love and affection, and that you love him so much you make yourself flexible and let go.
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