Tea Party with the Ancestors and other Celebrations

Elul Day 27

In a few days it will be Tishrei, the first month of the Jewish new year. Tishrei has more holidays than any other month of the year. Not only are there five significant holidays, but several of them last for more than one day. Sukkot is actually eight days, ending with my new favorite holiday Shemini Atzeret. And then there's Simchat Torah, when we dance ourselves into ecstatic oblivion.

I always loved sitting in the sukkah when I was a child. Loved the smell of autumn and the unusual rituals of the holiday. The sukkah itself, with its delicate, minimalist structure and beautiful decorations, created a mystical atmosphere, especially at night when you could see the stars through the thatched roof. It's designed that way on purpose; its fragility is a reminder of the impermanence of material possessions, and even of our own human fragility.


Sukkot was like having a tea party in a playhouse, except with better snacks and special prayers. There was also a more interesting guest list, including not only friends and family members, but also ancestors, even God and angels. 

Sukkot is also called z'man simchateynu, which means "season of our joy." Some of my most beloved themes and practices are embedded and embodied in this season, such as joy and praise (special prayers of Hallel–as in Hallelujah), hospitality (we are supposed to eat all of our meals in the sukkah and invite people to eat with us), and openness (only three walls, no door, thatched roof). 

I think I will need a nap before and afterward. I've got a lot of merriment ahead of me.

Sukkot 5770 

having a tea party today

my favorite party dress

my shiniest patent leather red mary janes

the ancestors are coming

and so are the neighborhood dogs

made my own decorations for the sukkah

dried flowers and rainbow garlands

smells like fresh lavender and eucalyptus

grandma’s tablecloth on the floor

and the place settings in a circle,

want all the guests to be in a tea party mood.

So everyone’s
favorite cookies are being served,

the dogs.

can’t wait to see what people will be wearing,

and I have special party hats on hand just in case.

always put a big basket next to the sukkah

So people
can leave their grumpy growly no-fun-at-all attitudes outside

they sit down for tea.

just keep singing as the guests arrive.

someone will pick up a drum and join me.