I love the idea that the round challah we have on Rosh Hashanah represents how the year goes round in a circle. There are endings that bring new beginnings and we never stop learning from the changes life brings. Then we observe Yom Kippur, a time of reflection on ourselves and our lives and working on being better.Just like the shofar at the end of Yom Kippur, Sukkot comes to awaken us, but this time with our senses and surroundings. As I celebrate Sukkot, it brings images of the circle of life and the changing seasons. We think of the harvest of spring, new growth and vegetables to support our bodies, new guests to fill our Sukkah and art from your children to add to your Sukkah. The colorful leaves and gourdes remind us of autumn and that change can be a beautiful time. We eat and sleep in the Sukkah to remember how God gave the Jewish people tents to shelter them at night and from the cold weather. We are reminded that even when life gets stormy G-d’s presence is there as our Sukkah withstands the wind, rain and even snow in Colorado. This may feel like a cold winter, but we are not alone.
The start of the Jewish new year and Sukkot has so much meaning to me of hope and newness. I remember preparing for our twins bris and baby naming that were due close to Rosh Hashanah. We were such planners and worried how we would arrange it around the holidays. My beautiful Ben and Arielle were born four weeks early and although they were relatively healthy they spent some time in the NICU. We were able to celebrate with a friends and family in our cozy Sukkah. The atmosphere felt like summer filled with the warmth of the sunlight through the (schach) roof and my mother’s smile as she held my daughter. Our sukkah was surrounded by love and newness.
Now as the New Year has started I think of my mom again. She always put so much thought and enjoyment in celebrating the holidays for our family and extended as we grew. This Rosh Hashanah felt incomplete as she was unable to make it to our family meal. My children and I visited her at the nursing home where she was frail and bedridden. I was not going to bring up Rosh Hashanah thinking it would sadden her. Yet when I arrived the nurse pointed out the apples and honey she had left for her. My children shared about their lives and my mom responded. I hesitantly asked her if she would like and apple with honey for Rosh Hashanah. She nodded and held the apples and fed them to her. I hope we had brought her some sweetness that day.
Every year we add more decorations that our children have made to our Sukkah. And this year we have my two new nephews from my sister and brother to join us. They are not quite a year old and the joy and hope they bring us will be such a blessing.
We make many resolutions and expectations for the New Year and may be disappointed in the outcome. Life can get mundane and stressful, but we should take time to be aware and awaken our senses as the shofar awakens us. See the beauty in the nature around us and in your family. Taste a new fruit on Sukkot and savor food all year long. Smell the Etrog and take a moment to breath.
Sharon just moved to Lafayette and loves being closer to the mountains and enjoys the community. She is a mom in her 40’s of almost 6 year old twins who is going back to teaching preschool after being a stay at home. Her family loves finding ways to celebrate our Judaism in song, food and prayer with our family and friends.