In 2010 there was a contest called Sukkah City. People were invited to construct unusual sukkahs. Now the movie about this wild and crazy event is out; you can see a trailer here. What the contest illustrated is that sukkahs can come in all sorts of shapes, colors and materials. Even kosher ones! I thought I’d share a few images with you to get your creative juices flowing.

From brooklynpaper.com

From brooklynpaper.com

Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, NY had this structure built for them in 2011.

batman guards my sukkah

Here is my own sukkah from a couple years ago. This is one of my FAVORITE photos as you’ll note that Batman guards my sukkah! So stay away bad guys!

From www.bshalom.org

From www.bshalom.org

Here is B’nai Shalom of Walnut Creek’s congregational sukkah. Big enough to accommodate community gatherings.

sukkah with flags

Here’s a sukkah with a table and a comfy seat. Jewish prayer flags have become available in recent years. Also, with a heightened awareness of avoiding food waste, many people use paper mache fruit instead of real fruit.

credit: haaretz.com

credit: haaretz.com

This is a crowded street in an ultra Orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem – from Haaretz.com

A friend of mine artfully hangs diaphanous fabric from branch to branch in her garden and adds lights. It is magical.

Email me a photo of YOUR sukkah that I can share here. Send it to dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org

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Decorating the Sukkah

Decorating the Sukkah

Sukkot is one of the three Jewish pilgrimage festivals—that means very important! It’s fun for kids and adults alike. Imagine building a playhouse + decorating for an autumn festival + picnicking outside — you’ve got Sukkot.

How do you get started with the fun? Come to a no-experience-needed gathering to learn about Sukkot. You’ll leave with several plans on how to make your own sukkah (hut or playhouse), recipes for yummy Jewish fall foods, and craft designs for decorations.

Sunday, September 22
2:00 – 4:00 pm
Private home in Oakland
$20/family
$10/person
Limited to 6 families so sign up asap!

Sign up HERE

Posted by admin under Children, Holidays, Jewish Culture, Jewish holidays at home, Jewish Learning, Programs archive, Sukkot
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Time to really CELEBRATE!
Whew! The big days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are over. You trekked to synagogue for more hours in a row than some people go in a year! It’s easy to let Sukkot go by the wayside. We’re tired; enough already! But now that you’ve put in the serious time, don’t you deserve a reward? Time for the fun and food of Sukkot. Synagogues all over have put up their sukkahs with the kids from Hebrew school. They’ve decorated and delighted in their work. Why not drop over for a drink or a piece of cake or just to schmooze with friends in your jeans? The weather boys are predicting temps in the 80s so get outside and enjoy the last of summer.

Here’s the trailer for the film Sukkah City, so check out this array of fantastical sukkahs!

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Sukkot on the Farm
Wilderness Torah invites you to gather in multi-generational community for the sixth annual Sukkot on the Farm Festival – a four-night camp out and celebration of the fall harvest. Come co-create our village and enjoy the Columbus day weekend with farm-fresh organic food, Shabbat and Sukkot celebration, bonfires, music, learning, kids activities, meditation, movement, and more! Reawaken the Water Festival, Simchat Beit Hashoevah, where we honor and call in the waters for the coming year and dance and celebrate with live music on Saturday night!

Dates: Oct. 4 – 8
Place: Green Oaks Creek Farm, Pescadero
Cost: Work Exchange: $160 or less, see website for work opportunities; Adult $325-$550, Age 13-17: $150; Age 4-12: $75, Children Aged 3 and under: $35
More details here

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In the Sukkah


There are three pilgrimage holidays in Jewish tradition. Pilgrimage holidays are the ones on which ancient Israelites traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the holiday at the Temple. Sukkot is one of them.

Exodus 23:14 describes the three festivals – Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. Sukkot is the third, the ingathering or harvest.

Exodus 23:14
14. Three times you shall slaughter sacrifices to Me during the year.
15. You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread as I have commanded you, at the appointed time of the month of springtime, for then you left Egypt, and they shall not appear before Me empty handed.
16. And the festival of the harvest, the first fruits of your labors, which you will sow in the field, and the festival of the ingathering at the departure of the year, when you gather in [the products of] your labors from the field.
But Sukkot became more than a harvest festival. In Leviticus it is described as a way to remember that when the Israelites came out of Egypt we lived in booths or huts. So we emulate them – a very experiential way of learning and remembering.

Leviticus 23:39
39. But on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you gather in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the festival of the Lord for a seven day period; the first day shall be a rest day, and the eighth day shall be a rest day.
40. And you shall take for yourselves on the first day, the fruit of the hadar tree, date palm fronds, a branch of a braided tree, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for a seven day period.
41. And you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord for seven days in the year. [It is] an eternal statute throughout your generations [that] you celebrate it in the seventh month.
42. For a seven day period you shall live in booths. Every resident among the Israelites shall live in booths,
43. in order that your [ensuing] generations should know that I had the children of Israel live in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God.

(from Chabad.org)

We are commanded to build and live in our sukkah (our hut) for a week. Some people sleep in their sukkah. That may be more than you can manage. But do have one or more of your meals outside – it can be so lovely.

Living in a hut reminds us of how fragile life is. It is symbolizes our vulnerability and is supposed to make us realize that we must rely on God over transitory material things.

What to teach your children? Here are some ideas. Pick what works for you.

How lucky we are to have a home! And even a home with a floor made of wood (or other materials) but not just dirt. This is a good time to talk about homelessness and how to help others.
What are the things we rely? Friends, family? This is a great time to play the “who loves you?” game. Parent says to child, who loves you? The child thinks of all the people who love them – parents, siblings, aunts & uncles, teachers and rabbis, neighbors and friends, pets, etc.
Isn’t nature marvelous to provide the fall harvest of squash, tomatoes, wheat, apples, etc.? What foods do you love? How can we give food to hungry people? What foods can we plant and raise ourselves?
Tell the story of the Exodus. Tell your kids about the Israelis leaving Egypt to gain freedom. Who is seeking their freedom today?

Activities
Go picking! There are places like Brentwood where you can pick your own food.
Bake! Make pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, butternut squash soup. Let the kids help.
Have guests over. We are commanded to invite guests into our sukkah – traditionally we symbolically invite in the patriarchs and the matriarchs. But be inventive. Who are the teachers, friends, interesting people you want to invite? How about inviting your soccer coach or the kids from the carpool?
Decorate. Make paper chains. Cut out paper in the shape of fruits and vegetables to hang in the sukkah. Hang photos of loved ones that perhaps can’t make it.

What about the lulav and etrog; what are they?
An etrog is a citrus fruit from the middle east. We don’t have them much in America. You have to buy one special for this holiday. They are flown in. They look like big Eureka lemons.
The Lulav is made of three plants. One branch of willow tree, one branch palm and one of myrtle. They are put together in a woven handle.

What does the waving mean? What do these plants mean?
Well, what do you believe? There are mystical interpretations. Look here for more info. But do we have any historical document that tells us what the ancients believed? No. In ancient times did the date palm symbolize righteousness? We don’t know. Like the pronunciation of the name of God, this is lost to us. There is something sad in that but there is also great potential to create new ideas. What do you make of these items? Perhaps your truth is locked inside of you and you just need to let your imagination soar.

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Sukkah Lights

Sukkot: The Next Holiday!
If I could go back to the beginning of the creation of the calendar I would plead for a few more days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. The High Holidays are so all encompassing and then, BOOM, it’s time for one of the pilgrimage holidays. I LOVE sukkot. Putting up the sukkah, decorating it, eating in it, having guests over. It’s all fun!

You can buy one online, you can go to a synagogue or JCC, you can build your own.

How to Make a Sukkah
Here is a fast, clear cartoon about the basic BASICS of building a sukkah.

I love this video by a guy who looks like he lives in Berkeley. He explains how to make a sukkah AND how to erect one of his mail order sukkahs.

Decorate your Sukkot
Many families make paper chains to hang in their sukkah. Try something old that’s new again. Here is a link to a free download of a bird /egg decoration that was popular back in the 17th century throughout European Jewish communities – and was passed on throughout the generations. Unfortunately they have just about disappeared from the modern sukkah decor.

If all that sounds like too much then throw a sheet over the kitchen table and let the kids crawl underneath and pretend. Get creative.

What no Sukkah!?
Are you reading this thinking, “But I don’t have a sukkah and Sukkot starts too soon. I’ve missed out.” No, you haven’t. Go to a Sukkot event at a synagogue, build something this weekend. Or like I said above, crawl under a table and just pretend. The good news is there are no Sukkah police to check your way of observing.

HAVE FUN!

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Jewish Calendar


Sukkot begins just FIVE days after Yom Kippur! I can hardly keep up. So consider this fair warning that you should be thinking about where you’ll be shaking your lulav beginning next Wednesday evening. I’ll send you more info on that after Yom Kippur.

May you be inscribed in the book of Life for a peaceful and joyous new year (5772).
Dawn

EVENTS
Tot Shabbat for Yom Kippur (Berkeley)
High Holy Day Services for Families with Young Children (Cupertino)
Introduction to Judaism: Exploring Jewish Beliefs and Practices (San Francisco)
Celebrate Sukkot with Tots N’ Torah (Burlingame)
Shabbat Yeladim in our Sukkah (San Rafael)
Pajamas in the Sukkah (Palo Alto)
Visit a Sukkah! (Los Altos area)
BBQ in the Sukkah (Los Gatos)
Sukkot Day Water Play (Saratoga)
Intro to Jewish Life (San Rafael)
Tot Shabbat Pizza Potluck (Oakland)

Tot Shabbat for Yom Kippur
This program was described to me this way: The tot service at Beth El tomorrow is definitely Yom Kippur focused. I went last year. It was like 30 minutes long, very age appropriate with guitar-led songs, stories, a brief torah reading, shofar blowing. They do it outside on blankets under the oak tree in front of the shul. They do them once a month on shabbat too.

Date: Saturday, Oct. 8
Time: 10:30am
Place: Beth El, 1301 Euclid, Berkeley
www.bethelberkeley.org

High Holy Day Services for Families with Young Children
High Holy Day Services for families with young children on Rosh Hashanah do not require tickets and are open to all. On Rosh Hashanah, the Services feature a special blessing for all babies born or adopted during the past year. Children are encouraged to bring a shofar to make a big noise to greet the new year.

Date: Saturday, October 8
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Place: Flint Center, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino
Hosted by Congregation Beth Am of Los Altos. For more information, call them at 650-493-4661.

Introduction to Judaism: Exploring Jewish Beliefs and Practices
Get an in-depth look at the basics of Jewish thought and practice. Engage in a mix of study, discussion and hands-on experiences. Topics include:
• Jewish beliefs and values
• Holidays and the Jewish calendar
• Prayer and liturgy
• Lifecycle events

Date: Mondays, October 10–December 19, 2011
Time: 6:30–8:00 pm
Place: Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., San Francisco
Cost: Materials fee: $5.The course book, Living Judaism by Rabbi Wayne Dosick, will be available for purchase at the first class for $15.
Information & registration: Lisa Hoelle, 415.346.1720, x24, or lhoelle@sherithisrael.org

Celebrate Sukkot with Tots N’ Torah
Sukkot, the Jewish harvest festival, is a fun time to come together as families and as a community to celebrate the blessings in our lives. Join us as we gather in the Peninsula Temple Sholom sukkah to sing some Shabbat songs, welcome ushpizin (special guests), wave the lulav and etrog (symbols of the holiday), and share a meal under the stars. Our Sukkot Tots ‘n’ Torah service begins promptly at 6 PM on Friday October 14 in the PTS sukkah. We will continue the celebration with a pizza dinner under the stars at 6:30.

Date: Friday, October 14
Time: 6pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Drive, Burlingame
Cost for dinner is $5 per person and online RSVP is required at www.sholom.org.

Shabbat Yeladim in our Sukkah
Yeladim means ‘children’ in Hebrew. This new Saturday morning Shabbat service is designed for a wider age range than the usual Tot Shabbat (more like zero to 7 or 8 rather than just pre-schoolers). Enjoy snacks and stories in the Sukkah with the fabulous Jonathan Bayer! Parents and grandparents and (even really little) kids welcome.

Date: Saturday, October 15
Time: 9:30 to 10:15am
Place: Rodef Sholom, 170 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael
www.rodefsholom.org

Pajamas in the Sukkah
For children aged 2-7 and their families. Enjoy snacks, stories and singing in the Sukkah. There’s lots of room in the sukkah, but please make a reservation so there will be enough food to go around. Bring some friends; non-members are welcome.

Date: October 15
Time: 5:00 to 6:30pm
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma Street, Palo Alto
To sign up go here: http://bit.ly/qdQYtC
For more information you can call 650-813-9094

Visit a Sukkah!
Celebrate the festival holiday of Sukkot with friends and neighbors by hosting or visiting them in a sukkah. Shake the etrog, wave the lulav and enjoy the harvest festival.
Here is what last year’s Sukkot open house goers had to say:
“I loved visiting and getting to know the clergy in such a relaxed, casual setting!”
“We had a lovely afternoon, it was great to meet other Beth Am members who live in my neighborhood!”
“What a warm, inviting atmosphere. Our kids had a great time and so did we!”

Sunday, October 16, 2 – 5 p.m.
To sign up to visit a sukkah, you must RSVP online. For more information, contact Haya Rubin, (443) 928-4741 or Jill Rosenberg, (408) 739-6250.
Hosted by Beth Am of Los Altos, www.betham.org

BBQ in the Sukkah
Celebrate the autumn holiday of Sukkot in the APJCC’s Sukkah. Enjoy dinner, games, singing, and dancing as we celebrate outside under the evening sky. Everyone is welcome. FREE Kosher barbecue dinner provided.

Date: Monday, October 17
Time: 4:00pm-6:00pm
Place: Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos
RSVP by Tuesday, October 11th.
For more information or to RSVP, contact the APJCC Center for Jewish Life and Learning at 408.357.7411 or cjll@svjcc.org.

Sukkot Day Water Play
Sukkot: The Festival of “booths” — and water!
Celebrate Sukkot with water! It’s a tradition from ancient Israel — Simchat Beit
HaShoevah — a “Drawing of Water” ceremony. We’ll read special PJ Library books on Sukkot themes! We’ll have fun with watery outdoor activities: water play, watercolor painting …and much more! And, of course, snacks in Beth David’s Sukkah!

Date: Tuesday, October 18
Time: 5 to 6:30pm
Place: Congregation Beth David, 19700 Prospect Road, Saratoga
Please RSVP by October 13 at www.jvalley.org/pjlibrary.
Sponsored by PJ Library and the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley

Intro to Jewish Life
Don’t know the difference between the Torah and the Talmud?
Want to know more about the Jewish religion, culture and traditions?
Thinking about converting to Judaism?
The first of 4 Tuesdays, this course is the perfect intro for both Jewish and non-Jewish adults interested in learning more about Jewish traditions, texts and more. Jewish “doing” and practical Jewish spirituality will be emphasized.

Date: Tuesdays, beginning Oct. 18
Time: 7:15 to 8:45pm
Place: Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Rd., San Rafael
Cost: $60/public; $50/member
Info: http://bit.ly/pL4uRR
Co-sponsored by the Osher Marin JCC, Congregations Rodef Sholom and Kol Shofar.

Tot Shabbat Pizza Potluck
Tot Shabbat pizza potluck dinners are informal gatherings and a great way to get to know parents at Temple Sinai. Dinner starts at 5:30pm in Stern Hall; the monthly Tot Shabbat service follows at 6:30pm. A requested donation of $10 per family covers the cost of food. Everyone is asked to bring something to share: a side dish, salad, beverages or dessert for the Oneg. Also, please bring water for your family, or your beverages of choice.

Date: Friday, Oct. 28
Time: 5:30pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Please RSVP by visiting http://totshabbatpotluck.eventbrite.com/ by 4:30pm on the Wednesday before the event so that we can order enough food for everyone. If you have any questions about these events, please feel free to contact Amy Jo Goldfarb (Temple Sinai Preschool mom) ajgoldfarb@att.net
Tot Shabbat Potlucks occur every fourth Friday!

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This is it my friends, the High Holy days are over and the entire Jewish community springs to life!  If you’ve been thinking of taking a class, now it the time to figure out what you want to take and where.  If you have any particular interest, feel free to contact me for help.  Take a look at www.lehrhaus.org.  The classes are located all around the bay area and cover many topics.

 


 

Sukkot will arrive on Friday night at sundown

Come to my Sukkah on Sunday!

This is one of my FAVORITE holidays!  Yesterday  my husband is constructing our sukkah.  Tonight I get to decorate it!  Super fun!  Again, I invite anyone who would like to, to come to my sukkah on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 3pm.  I’ll be having some friends over and you are welcome to come.  Just email me at dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org and I’ll send you the details.

 

 

Learn more about Sukkot here:

www.myjewishlearning.com (Click on Sukkot or just look at the images at the top.)  Lots of great details.

 

Decorating your sukkah or taking decorations to someone else’s sukkah

Traditionally a sukkah is decorated with fruits of the fall harvest but in modern times people don’t want to waste food when so many are going hungry.  So you can make paper chains (remember them!), cut out paper images of fruit and veggies.  Many people string their Rosh Hashanah cards and hang those.  You can drape fabric across the ceiling to make it look like a tent.  Let the kids go crazy on this one.  Invite your friends to come up with fun ideas.  Some years we’ve made paper tissue flowers and strung them together.

 

Set a table inside to hold your meals.  This can be a card table or any portable table you’ve got.  Invite friends to join you for a meal.  This weekend looks to be warm so it’s a great time to eat outdoors.

 

 

October/November Workshops

Let me know if you are coming to any of my workshops. Email me at dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org

 

 

Women in Interfaith Relationships (in Oakland, one session)

A discussion for girlfriends, wives, mothers and grandmothers

Join other women, Jewish or not, to examine interfaith marriage in relation to culture and gender.  What are the unique expectations and responses that a woman encounters as she creates a home and builds a family life in which her religion is not that of her partner?  Join a multi-generational discussion about the assumptions and possibilities surrounding our roles as sustainers of the family.

 

Date:    Oct. 11

Time:    12noon

Place:   Private home in Oakland

Cost:    $7/public; free to Temple Sinai members

Co- sponsored by Temple Sinai and Building Jewish Bridges.

To sign up and get directions call Dawn at 510-845-6420 x11

 

Women in Interfaith Relationships (in Palo Alto, two sessions)

A Discussion for Girlfriends, Wives, Mothers & Grandmothers

Are you raising a child with a partner of a different (or no) religious tradition? How does gender impact interfaith relationships? Society places expectations on women as girlfriends, wives, mothers, grandmothers, aunts and best friends. Even in the 21st century, the home is the domain of the female parent. How does that play out with Judaism, a home based faith? What if you are a lesbian interfaith couple; are the religious responsibilities any different?

Come explore the roles, expectations, pluses and minuses of being female in an interfaith relationship. Jewish or not, wife or grandmother, join us for a lively supportive discussion.

 

To register please visit www.paloaltojcc.org or call Heidi Stein at (650) 223-8605

Co-sponsored by Building Jewish Bridges and the Oshman Family JCC, Palo Alto

2 sessions: Sundays, 7:00pm  October 25 – November 22  

Tuition: $25; $20/members of OFJCC

Site: Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way Palo Alto, CA 94303, Palo Alto

 

 

Exploring Interfaith LGBTQ Relationships
Join us for an exploration of key issues that come up for interfaith couples: clarifying values, good communication, relationships with family and friends, finding community, and joyfully sharing each other’s traditions, holidays and religious observances. This class will be a combination of discussion, readings, and guided activities. All genders welcome.

Date:   Four sessions beginning Monday, Oct. 26
Time:   7:30 to 9pm
Place:  Kehilla Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont 
Cost:   $80/couple, no one turned away for lack of funds.
For more information call Dawn at 510-845-6420 x11.

 

 

How I Decided to Raise my Kids Jewish
How do non-Jewish parents decide to raise their children as Jews? What are their concerns?  Once the decision is made, how did they make it happen? Did they retain their own religion? How do they share their identity with their children?  Come hear a panel of non-Jewish parents as they discuss their journey to a Jewish home identity.

 

Date:     Nov. 1

Time:    10am to 11:45am

Place:   Beth Israel Judea, 625 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco

Cost:    $7; free to Beth Israel Judea members

For more information all Dawn at 510-845-6420 x11

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lanterns

Shana Tova! Happy New Year!

Do Rabbis have a Sense of Humor about the High Holidays?
Take a look at this video and you tell me!
That’s Rabbi Bloom of Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland. You can join him for Yom Kippur or all year long on Shabbat. Call the synagogue for more information: 510-832-0936.

Sukkot is coming!
This is one of my favorite holidays. You build a hut (sounds like a fort to me!); your parents actually help you do it. You eat in it and sleep in it (if it’s not too cold). You decorate it.
Sukkot has everything – food, place, construction, decorating, family gathering, friends invited in. One thing that makes it REAL is to actually have a sukkah. You can buy a pre-fab one online. They aren’t cheap, ours cost $200, but then neither are a lot of terrific things. If you’re handy with a hammer you can make your own. But the prefab ones breakdown and store till next year.

Ramadan
We are still in the month of Ramadan. I was talking to a Jewish woman on this list who told me that her Muslim husband has been fasting in observance of the holiday. I asked if he were tired or miserable. (We Jews only fast one day, Muslims fast for an entire lunar months worth of days, while breaking their fast each evening.) She said, no, he enjoys it. He feels that following the traditions of Islam help to keep him grounded. He is not a religious guy at all, but he feels that rituals create a framework for his life.
Many Jews will go to Rosh Hashanah and will fast on Yom Kippur for much the same reasons. For all of us the practices of our people are a culture that gives us a bedrock on which to build our lives, stories that give voice to our values. For Jews, the most important thing is what you do. Act. Therefore, it is natural that we “do” in order to lead us to good thoughts and more good deeds. The song says, “good deeds lead to good deeds; bad deeds lead to bad deeds.”
For this new year, 5679, let us join with Zubair and make an effort to find our own framework and work for a better world.
Here’s an easy thing – for one day, greet everyone you deal with as though they are a friend. Tell me how it went.

May the new year bring you increased contentment and peace,
Dawn

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