If you had to select one day out of the entire Jewish calendar to invite someone who has never been to a synagogue to come and observe, what day might you choose? Some might suggest Shabbat, where we give gratitude to God for a day of rest. Some might suggest Rosh Hashanah, with the blasts of the Shofar and stirring melodies. Some might even suggest Purim, with its mirth and irreverence. Me? I would suggest Sukkot. Why Sukkot?
Pageantry. We shake the lulav and Etrog. We march around the sanctuary with the lulav and Etrog.
The Senses. We smell the beautiful bouquet of the Etrog and the spiciness of the myrtle. We feel the four species in our hands. We hear the shaking of the lulav. We see the colors and joy in people’s faces.
Joy. Sukkot is also known as Z’man Simchateinu, the season of our joy. We are celebrating a festival, singing uplifting melodies, reveling in the company of fellow worshippers.
The Sukkah. It is always fun to chant Kiddush and eat in a Sukkah, to enjoy the temporary nature of its existence, to share stories of memorable events, and just enjoy.
Unique texts. I will be introducing a lost custom on Shabbat Hol HaMoed Sukkot(the intermediate non-festival days) – the chanting of Kohelet, the Biblical book known as Ecclesiastes – and we will study some of it together and marvel at the great wisdom in it. On Shemini Atzeret, the eighth day (technically a separate holiday, but that is for another discussion), I will intone the prayer for rain for the land of Israel.
The above are why I would welcome a guest on Sukkot, and most warmly welcome you to join me on these festive days for any/all of the following (we have lulav sets for you!):
Wednesday evening, October 4 at 6:30PM – the evening service to start the festival
Thursday and Friday, October 5 and 6 at 9:45AM – the morning services
Friday evening, October 6 at 5:45PM – evening service followed by Dinner in the Hut
Shabbat morning, October 7 at 9:45AM – Shabbat Hol Hamoed Sukkot
Sunday morning, October 8 at 9:00AM– Hol Hamoed services followed by breakfast in the Sukkah
Monday and Tuesday, October 9 and 10 at 7:30AM – Hol HaMoed services followed by breakfast
Wednesday, October 11 at 7:30AM – Hoshana Rabba – last opportunity for penitential prayers
Thursday, October 12 at 9:45AM – Shemini Atzeret
Thursday, October 12 at 7:00PM – Simchat Torah services featuring The Torah Unwrapped!
Friday, October 13 at 9:45AM – Simchat Torah services
To bring in the joy of the holiday and the New Year with extra cheer, please join me on Shabbat, October 7 as I inaugurate The L’Chayim Club – an opportunity to enjoy a L’Chayim (in the Sukkah of course!) to celebrate all the good that God has given us in our lives.