In many communities in Israel, the entire week of Sukkot is taken as an extended vacation. Families often use the intermediate days or chol ha-moed to travel, visit museums, or participate in other activities that their normal schedules don’t allow. While a part of me misses these extended fall breaks from my years spent living in Israel, there is something about being in school during these days that gives us such an incredible opportunity to celebrate Sukkot in ways that we might not be able to for other holidays when we are not physically in school. From lots of times for eating in the sukkah to our special holiday Questions of the Day, Sukkot, also known as zman simchateinu, literally, the time of our joy, is the perfect way to celebrate, learn, and share with each other.
These days that are part of the larger week-long holiday of Sukkot (and Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah) even have their own greeting that they share with the chol ha-moed days of Passover in the spring. A person traditionally calls out “Modaim le-simcha!”, meaning “Times of joy, or Happy Holidays!” The other person can then respond by saying Chagim u-zmanim le-sason!” or “Holidays and seasons for rejoicing!” I love how these phrases and their call-and-response nature actually can help us to stop and enjoy this holiday season and all of the changes and opportunities that it brings.
This has been an incredibly busy couple of days for us here at Ezra. Our students have enjoyed eating, playing and learning in and around the Sukkot, they have recited the daily songs of praise of the Hallel service and have had ample opportunities for learning about the different components of Sukkot. Today, we had a wonderful Preschool Sukkot breakfast in the Sukkah as well as our PTO sponsored Sukkah Breakfast for students where they had the chance to enjoy the beautiful weather and snacks. Tonight, our older students will gather together for learning and games to celebrate Sukkot and tomorrow we will welcome grandparents and special friends to enjoy the sukkah, classroom learning, and special Kabbalat Shabbat services.
We are also gearing up for the next two holidays, Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah and students have been preparing for the end of the Torah and the start of a new Torah reading cycle, creating flags, and sharing their favorite stories and verses from the Torah.
Wishing you all a wonderful continuation of these joyous holidays, Moadim le-simcha and a Shabbat Shalom,