Giant Bird of Paradise fronds and flower
© Joy Krauthammer
Sukkah for Sukkot
"One who has not seen the rejoicing of Sukkot, has never seen true rejoicing." -Talmud
You shall live in huts seven days; all citizens of Israel shall live in huts, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in huts when I brought them out of the Land of Egypt, I am HaShem your G*d. -Leviticus 23:42-3
Bird of Paradise Sukkah has been gifted to friends of my daughter. Aviva has known Lisa since their early grades and now Lisa has a husband and two young daughters. A sukkah (temporary small spiritual living hut) would be good for the young family, and they never had one, so this is their first!
Aviva, her dad Marcel, z'l, and I always built a sukkah since she was five years old, thirty years ago. At that time we bought many long beams of wood and followed instructions to create a sukkah. (It can be made of other materials.) We decorated it with mostly fake fruits (not to waste food) and seasonal dried corn, Aviva's art, holiday cards, tapestries (my sixties hippie bedspreads) to cover the blue tarps, posters of sukkot themes, rugs, and hung a lamp inside and added tables and chairs. For meals in the sukkah (and to shake the lulav and etrog), we invited ushpizin/guests*. When Marcel became paralyzed and Aviva no longer lived at home, he could no longer erect the annual sukkah. For Marcel during Sukkot, I lovingly created a temporary cozy hut, with rugs and seating (although maybe not halachically accurate). We then celebrated in the homey, intimate sukkah.
Following Yom Kippur, I just gave away our family sukkah to Lisa and her family. I am thrilled that I did a double mitzvah in preparing for that gift. Driving on the street, I saw an elderly man who had pruned 20 very long healthy green and shiny fronds from his giant Bird of Paradise bush and they were sitting on his lawn. The eight foot beautiful fronds/leaves are as long as the inside of my SUV. I asked if I could have them and the man answered "yes". He was probably happy that he didn't have to bend down and pick up all the leaves and try to stuff them into his garden garbage pail. I drove the fronds (and additional greenery) a few miles over to the owners of the new Sukkah. The fresh green leaves would now become the schach/roof for the sukkah. The schach must be from detached plants, trees and may be dried. (I used to use my flowering oleanders and palm fronds.)
(Fronds now sell for $3.50 each plus $15 delivery in LA, and I recall when they were half that price, and free before that from the City of LA.)
Sukkot is in 24 hours and I hope the young family invites me over to see how in their grassy garden, they have erected their new Sukkah-- one filled with many sweet family holiday memories with guests. It is a coincidence that the shul teacher of the little girls, is the widow of the man, Steve, z'l, who used to help my husband build our sukkah.
Krauthammer Sukkah and guests
*Guests are both mystical, biblical, and real.
Learn more about Sukkot and building a Sukkah:http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/4784/jewish/What-is-Sukkot.htm