Written by Rifki Orzech
We’re commanded to live in the sukkah for seven days. At the very least, we eat, talk, learn Torah, and some even sleep there for seven days. It’s holy glamping from the convenience of your own home. And, depending where you live in the world and where your sukkah’s situated, inside, in the yard or on a balcony, that’ll indicate whether the experience, the chavaya, comes with heaters, fans, a spare bit of carpet or if there’s a roof installed against the inevitable downpour.
Preparing for the chag is a great family or group activity. Whether you’re building from scratch and teaching building technique or using modular pop up huts and curtains, there’s always a practical snag you’re going to have to solve. Preparation is part and parcel of the anticipation of the festival. They can build and bake or fix up and cook. There are so many jobs in the lead up to Sukkot that there’s really no excuse for a bored dawn chorus! You could download Ji’s Sukkah Challenge, and get your kids to build a virtual sukkah, after they have gone shopping in the shuk with the coins they earned through completing challenges.
This is the chag that probably has the more creative members of the tribe counting down the days toward it. It could be fancy foods and desserts or the practical problems of making sure everyone is comfortable in the sukkah, you name it, there’s so much to get the juices flowing. But, more than any other chag, it’s about the interior. Some decorate for Pesach but almost everyone decorates their sukkah and it’s almost a faux pas to invite someone in to see bare walls. Although, no pressure, we did do just that for years on end, before the children were old enough to help!
How about “The Rules of Our Sukkah” for the door?
If you’re feeling like a challenge, I took a peek at Pinterest and there’s a plethora of art projects from the intricate to the easy. You can craft beautiful things out of old CDs and earrings or try your hand at origami and quilling. You can attempt bean mosaics or go all the way and smash up your spare floor tiles. You can bedeck your walls with family trees and famous faces or hang Chinese lanterns, fairy lights and autumnal flowered garlands from your ceiling. There are themes in abundance, you can go seasonal or shivat haminim and much more besides.
We Stick Together Like Paper Chains and Duct Tape
Whether it’s pipe cleaners and pom poms or fake pearls and tie-dye adorning your table in the form of napkin holders, place cards or model sukkah centerpieces, you’re making beauty for your sukkah, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We tend to make space for older treasures like the ones the kids brought home for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur five years ago. The ones where they’re holding honey jars and wishing us Chag Sameach, they looked so darned cute! There must be something wrong with visitors who don’t comment on those decorations.
Rifki Orzech is an olah, a mother of three and a content writer with five years’ experience. She is passionate about women learning Torah and has completed the Susi Bradfield Educational Leadership Programme for Jewish women at the London School of Jewish Studies.