Thank you Kineret Spector for sending in this beautiful inspiring story about the importance of carrying on our wonderful Jewish holidays and traditions! Marlene
The Reason for Everything
It was Sunday night dinner in our Sukkah. Family and good friends totaling 20 were gathered around the table, already a beautiful sight! I beamed at my guests for a minute and thanked everyone for being there, before turning to go in for the soup. Suddenly, my friend Jody’s daughter spoke up.”I want to say something!” she announced. We all turned to look at Gilda, 6 years old, a normally reserved and serious child, and shy around adults – definitely not one to speak up at a table of 20. But Gilda showed no sign of hesitation as she continued, “I just want to say how happy I am to be here in this Sukkah, and it is so beautiful in here, and I really love it. I am so happy.” Her eyes glistened as she looked around the Sukkah.
I was speechless. Years of hosting, cooking, decorating, inviting. Every Shabbat and holiday, as we say, Eem kol ha lev - with our whole heart. And always to a happy, satiated, and appreciative crowd. But Gilda’s pure and genuine compliment, in all its simplicity, instantly reminded me (and provided a case in point to my whole family), why we do this at all. For our children. For the next generation of Jews.
Every Shabbat and Holiday is ultimately for them, but especially Sukkot. We know the symbolism of a sukkah and retell it every year. But for children, it’s even more than that. It’s a fort! A little hut! A small house! An enchanted little getaway. And we get to have this in our driveway every year because we’re Jewish! While the Sukkah is being erected, the kids are hard at work at the decoration table, making paper chains, paper lanterns, and welcome signs. They get to decide where it goes. It’s their own little Sukkah fort. Truly, the party starts that evening, as it all starts to come together.
For Gilda, the magical appeal of a sukkah may have been just that spark that evoked the gush of appreciation and awareness. I’m so lucky. I’m so happy. I’m Jewish. I’m part of something. Our kids do as we do. We tell them we’re Jewish, we model the rituals and tradition, we tell and retell stories of our ancestors, we explain and we teach. But to witness the moment when the first burst of genuine spirituality is stirred in a child – that is just a transcending experience. From oldest to youngest, we were all touched by a little bit of sukkah magic that night.
Kineret Spector lives in Los Angeles with her husband and four daughters. Please ‘like’ her facebook page BSG Tablescapes.
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