Sukkot: Fun with Makeshift Tents and Fellow Jews

In the days surrounding The Days of Awe, I’ve been able to shul-hop a little—hope you have been too—and listen to some wise men speak about the things we should focus on in the year ahead.

One point that stuck out to me was that, while we’re consumed with repenting and devoting our attention to Hashem, there is also an element of happiness. The “J” in “judgment” stands for joy, said Rabbi Shlomo Buxbaum at Aish DC in Rockville before Rosh Hashanah services. And being able to correct and repent for our misgivings over the past year also elicits a type of happiness and relief. So it is that so shortly after Yom Kippur we have eight days of celebration with Succos, or Sukkot.

With one of the easiest mitzvahs to complete being such a fun one, embracing it fully should be a snap. And if you’re new to D.C., all the more reason why you should get into Sukkot. Hosting new friends in a sukkah (if you’re lucky enough to be able to build one in D.C.) is a great way to get started, or even taking up someone’s offer of being invited to a meal in a sukkah. More than likely you’ll run into all sorts of new characters with such an easy, unforced networking scenario. Nothing says meet-and-greet like being trapped in a tiny hut with some fellow Jews.

So take your pick of the Sukkot events going on in the upcoming weeks.

DC Minyan, Kesher Israel, and Adas Israel are among the congregations hosting some more traditional meals. In a slightly more modern twist, YAD-MD is having a sukkah happy hour on Sunday, Oct. 16, and Chabad is hosting a sushi sukkah night for young professionals. So there are more young people-oriented events if you’re looking to mingle and do a mitzvah while you’re at it. Make sure you RSVP, since these are popular events (and it’s also a big help to organizers, given that getting an accurate headcount is crucial when working with a smaller space).

Take advantage of these opportunities to meet people, to get ideas for how to host people in your own home—a mitzvah that could be done at any time of the year—and to see the fun, spirited side of Jewish holidays.

Also, if you’ve never been to a sukkah hop, do it.  The official Sukkah Hop, which takes Jews to sukkahs around the city, is an annual crowd favorite.  But even if you can’t make it to this specific event, consider undertaking  your own version. I don’t care how old you are, you are never too old to walk from sukkah to sukkah, enjoying food, seeing how everyone decorated their makeshift abodes, and if you’re lucky, enjoying some other treats.  (Between Sukkot and Purim, Halloween’s got nothing on the Jewish holidays.)

Check out GTJ’s complete Sukkot event listing for all the holiday on-goings: http://www.gatherthejews.com/2011/10/sukkot-happenings/