Thursday, September 30, 2004

Sukkot in Jerusalem: Hot and cold

The first day of Sukkot was very nice-- I just love that I live in Jerusalem and it's one of the "shalosh regalim"-- but very hot. It was even hot last night, so hot that I could hardly bear to sit in the sukkah (and this was at night). I realized that one of the reasons I've always loved sukkot is that I always celebrated it in New England, where generally there is crisp fall weather at this time of year, and the leaves are changing colors, and the woods behind my house give off a wonderful earthy smell. We put on our jackets and feel a little chilly, but we can hear the crickets chirping at night, and during the day we can see the different-colored leaves that have blown onto the top of the sukkah.

Here, sukkot is "hamsin" season -- that is, there are blasts of hot air making their way through the region. Today at lunch, I felt rivulets of sweat running down my neck, and that was in a shady sukkah with the bamboo rugs for schach.

I complained about this to someone in my synagogue, who is also from Boston, and he pointed out that part of the meaning of the holiday is to remember that God protected the Jews while we were wandering in the desert, so in fact this blazing heat is "more authentic." I see his point, but still . . .

On my way to dinner last night I thought about New England, and the leaves changing color, and how my parents are selling the house that I lived in from the age of four because they are moving to Cleveland, and how next week (when I go to America) might be my last sukkot in my house, my last sukkot listening to the crickets and having orange and purple leaves fall onto the table . . . and tears came to my eyes, and I got a lump in my throat. Like I have right now.

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