The festival of Sukkot has four names, Sukkot (booths); HeChag (The Festival); Chag HaAsif (Festival of the Ingathering-harvest); and Z’man Simchateinu (The Season of Our Joy).
As we move into October and Sukkot at TLC we focus on Z’man Simchateinu - The Season of Our Joy. Before Sukkot began we spent some time on a TLC Tuesday where our students could decorate the TOLOLS sukkah. What joy this brought! The sukkah was all set and ready to go, it just needed decorations. We’ve done this with the students every year. Some years we’ve brought in gourds to decorate, there’s always the usual fruit cut outs to decorate or other cute projects.
What I noticed as we got into the decorating again this year is the novelty of the “paper chain.” Thankfully, due to the invention of craft foam sheets, which are more sturdy and don’t fall apart when the rain comes, we now use foam sheets to create the “paper chain.”
So what does making a “paper chain” involve? It involves: creativity, cooperation, sharing (specifically the two staplers available), cutting skills, sorting, measuring, stapling, inspiration, a bit of competition, ability to hang things from a tall place (help from a teacher or madrich), and enthusiasm.What I witnessed this year touched me and cemented in me how truly blessed I am to spend much of my day working with young children. Children who bring joy into our world.
Life skills, joy, Judaism, community and making our sukkah a beautiful place for all in our congregation and the congregations who share our building to enjoy was felt that day at TLC. In addition to the “paper chains” in the sukkah there are fruit crafts and fall decorations from years ago that we found in the building. A simple Sukkah was transformed into a warm and festive place. Indeed - Z’man Simchateinu! Sometimes it takes a group of young children spending time decorating our Sukkah to realize the small joys and blessings all around us in our daily lives.
We enjoyed a beautiful pot luck Sukkot dinner on the first Shabbat of Sukkot. Rabbi Myers put on his Dr. Seuss hat and shared a Dr. Seuss Sukkot poem. Then he charmed young and older with a few fun Chelm stories. We concluded with the Birkat HaMazon, The Blessing after a Meal. Our Sukkah was full and so was the table outside the Sukkah. Our congregants and guests enjoyed the simple pleasures of being together, good food, and wonderful company in a Jewish environment. They enjoyed the “paper chains” and decoration in the Sukkah!
I look forward to celebrating, singing and dancing on Simchat Torah with our families as we experience “Torah Unwrapped” on October 12 at 7 PM. See you there!