I think it was a very bad idea to schedule the first night of Rosh Hashanah on Labor Day. It meant very little time for planning as most people don’t really get out of their summer mode until Labor Day or right before. It also meant, for example, temperatures of around 90 degrees on Yom Kippur which made it a bit steamy in the Sanctuary yesterday given that for COVID risk mitigation reasons we keep the side doors open during services. It has also meant that during the days when people are generally signing up to attend Shabbat services in person, they have been praying and fasting. It’s really important for us to know who is planning to attend and who actually does attend our in-person services, so please sign up ASAP for in-person attendance tomorrow as well as for the first two days of Sukkot. The links are listed in my morning email in the appropriate days for each service. (If you are not receiving my morning emails please contact the office and ask to be put on the list.)
I am happy to say that cooler heads have prevailed for next year and Rosh Hashanah will begin Sunday night, September 25, 2022.
As far as Sukkot plans, if you have ordered a lulav and etrog set from the synagogue they will be available from the office during normal office hours today and Monday.
Although we will not be having kiddush or any other program in the sukkah, we will once again have one to use this year. It will be smaller than the ones we have had in the past (except for last year) but will be located in the same spot behind the synagogue and accessible from the far side of the parking lot past the sanctuary. Many thanks to Tom and Linda Loggie for making sure that we have a sukkah this year.
A minimal fulfillment of “dwelling” in the sukkah is to eat and drink at least a small amount inside a sukkah. The sukkah will be open and available for you to fulfill this mitzvah if you wish to do so. You will need to bring your own food and drink but a table, trash can, and disinfecting wipes will be provided. In order to maintain safe social distance, please plan to spend only a short time in the sukkah so that others may use it as well. If there are other people in the sukkah when you are, please be careful and maintain physical distancing.
After you say the blessing for the food and drink you are going to consume, say the following blessing as well:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לֵישֵׁב בַּסֻּכָּה
Bah-rookh ah-tah ah-doh-noi eh-loh-hay-noo meh-lekh hah-oh-lahm ah-sher ki-deh-shah-noo beh-mitz-voh-tahv veh-tzee-vah-noo lay-shayv bah-soo-kah
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.
The above blessing is said every time you eat in the sukkah.
When eating in the sukkah for the first time this year, say the following blessing:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִיעָנוּ לִזְמַן הַזֶּה
Bah-rookh ah-tah ah-doh-noi eh-loh-hay-noo meh-lekh hah-oh-lahm sheh-heh-kheh-yah-noo veh-kee-mah-noo ve-hig-ee-yah-noo liz-mahn hah-zeh
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. Although I am working primarily from home, I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian