President’s Post – October 2020

Building Beyond the Sukkah

Linda Rubin and Marla Shwarts, Co-presidents

It seems incongruent to be building something like a sukkah as we are so busy closing so much around us (buildings). We seem to be wandering (and wondering) throughout this pandemic (our contemporary desert) as this temporary structure is meant to sustain our blessings, our history, and our connection to one another… or maybe not. As we look around us, our temporary structures take on a great deal of meaning as we work toward sustaining life. We seem to actually be building strength during a time of illness all around us. We are striving to build community even as we haven’t been in physical touch with one another for a very long time. We are building connections with those who lack food with our social action activities. We have enjoyed extending our community participation to temple members who live miles and states away from us here on 7th Street.

The sukkah provides protection and yet we worry about it not securing us sufficiently against Covid-19 particles. How do we share meals together inside while maintaining the required social distancing? This protection might not just be structural, but rather a strong reminder that the sukkah is a canopy of shalom, of peace and a place for introspection, an opportunity to find gratitude, to study, and a familiarity with our precious past. The strength of the Jewish people to sustain that which is important clearly is being tested here at Temple Beth El, but it is clear with the creativity of minds, with the mindfulness of commitment, and the desire to do what is best for our community, we are building a sukkah on our site and we truly are building beyond the sukkah.

Our sukkot may seem different this year, but no less meaningful and important. Our sukkot reflects the integrity and connection to the strength we use to overcome the limitations set before us. There are no doors to the sukkah and perhaps that is symbolic to the openness we have built to do what needs to be done to live during and beyond this pandemic. We are open to new ideas, new ways of enduring, and new ways of responding to each new twist in our spiritual and cultural lives. There is nothing temporary about our wanting to connect with one another, to keep our traditions intact, and to see beyond our shelters no matter their form.

It is our prayer that our sukkot of peace allow each of us to build beyond the sukkah and establish meaningful and personal investments in doing better this year as individuals and as a congregation. No matter the distance, no matter the absence of the familiar sukkah of the past, no matter the new kind of building we are participating in, we are still very much a community of support, warmth, connection, and action. It is a blessing to be able to build beyond the sukkah here at Temple Beth El and beyond.