Wednesday, September 18, 2013
We are all still basking in the glow of a fantastic High Holidays, but the Jewish calendar provides no rest for the weary at this time of year. Sukkot begins this evening. My sukkah is fully assembled, (thankfully) and once again I can proudly say, "I built that." It's the only handy thing I do all year, and I'm bursting with pride to show it off to the congregation at our Sukkah hop on Sunday at noon. Lunch will be chez Hammerman and dessert at the cantor's sukkah next door. Please park at the temple and walk over. Let's hope this beautiful weather continues through the weekend.
Herman Hesse wrote, "One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect, the whole world looks like home for a time."
Events of the past few days have reminded us of the prime message of the sukkah, that what makes a home truly secure is not the strength of its walls but the love, faith and warmth shared within.
Or, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has written:
It's a simple festival. We take a palm branch, a citron, and some leaves of myrtle and willow, to remind ourselves of nature's powers of survival during the coming dark days of winter.
And we sit in a sukkah, the tabernacle itself, which is just a shed, a shack, open to the sky, with just a covering of leaves for a roof. It's our annual reminder of how vulnerable life is, how exposed to the elements.
And yet we call Sukkot our festival of joy, because sitting there in the cold and the wind, we remember that above us and around us are the sheltering arms of the divine presence.
Many of us were shaken by the explosion that destroyed a home in North Stamford. I could feel the blast in my home, right next to the temple, a couple of miles from the blast. It was terrifying, not unlike the sound of trees hitting my roof during Sandy. I can only imagine how terrifying it was for those living closer to it. Fortunately, there was no loss of life as result.
Such has not been the case in Colorado, where floods have caused massive mayhem. The Jewish community has also been impacted. A Conservative rabbi from Boulder has written this prayer, which we'll be reciting in full at services this week. An excerpt:
As we celebrate the joy of the gift of water and as we prepare to pray for rain, let us remember that when it is withheld, the soil is parched and nothing grows, but when the torrents flow without limit, our rivers burst, our homes flood and we tremble at its power. Water has given and water has taken. May water be blessed and may it bless and nurture us. Not destroy us.
Up On The Roof
Here's a view of our TBE sukkah that no one has ever seen before.
That's because I just took it from our roof. We had stairs installed today so people can go up to see our 850 new solar panels do their thing. I've never been up there, for all these years. And I have to tell you, I Like the Roof!
Just to prove I was up there, I give you Exhibit A, this selfie...
Along with this photo of Steve Lander and Dana Horowitz...
This one of our new solar panels...
According to our live online solar monitor, we've saved 1012 gallons of gasoline just since Rosh Hashanah, 8 tons of CO2, and the equivalent of 224 trees, and we've generated 12,497 kilowatt hours of energy. Add to that the best-ever 500 bags of food donated to Person-to-Person on the High Holidays, just by our congregation (far ahead of any other) and over 200 lbs of fresh vegetables from our mitzvah garden, oh and the many, many flowers given to local seniors facilities, well, I'd say we are holding up our end this far in 5774 in the area of Tikkun Olam (World Repair).
But this isn't meant to be a slap on the back - it's a reminder of not only how much good we are capable of doing, but how much more we need to do.
The sukkah with a hole in the roof, the hole that can now be seen from the temple's roof, reminds us that fixing the roof is only the beginning of a sustained effort to ensure sustainability on the ground.
But man, it really felt nice to see the view from that perch high above, "Up on the Roof."
On the roof, that's the only place I know
Where you just have to wish to make it so
We've done our wishing. Now we just have to make it so.
Check out Hazon's resource page to see how you can make your's a sustainable Sukkot. And come to our CSA meeting on Oct. 1!
There are so many events going on this weekend that I'll simply refer you to our weekly e-nnouncements. Please note that our office is closed on Thursday and Friday for the holiday. We are most definitely open for the "business" of services, however, as we will be on Friday night (Tot Shabbat and main service) and Shabbat morning. Mazal tov to Joshua Green and Dani Stavin, on their ufruf this week.
Have a joyous Sukkot!
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman