First of all, I wanted to let you know of a change in our plans for services the first two mornings of Sukkot. Because of very low registration of people who plan to attend in-person, our services those two mornings will be on Zoom only.
Shemini Atzeret is a day when Yizkor is recited and it is usually fairly well-attended. If there are enough people who plan to attend in person on Shemini Atzeret, Tuesday, Sept. 28, we will have a hybrid service that morning. If you would like to attend in person, please sign up by noon on Sunday, Sept. 26 at https://forms.gle/mZqCgaphagT8B5o87.
Before I recap the information about Sukkot that I presented last week, I want to take a moment to thank everyone for our very successful services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I know that there were some tech hiccups but fortunately not too many. As Allen Katz constantly reminds me, once you start enumerating specific people to thank you run the risk of leaving someone out, so I will just say thank you to everyone who helped out: Torah and haftarah readers, in-person and Zoom ushers, those who helped set up for services, people who had readings, etc.
I do want to single out a few people, however. Barnaby Yeh and Rabbi Emeritus Mark Raphael were superb daveners in the absence of Hazzan Komrad, for whose recovery we continue to pray. Ritual chair Bryan Levenson helped in so many ways that it’s almost impossible to begin to list them, and he was ably assisted by Joe Lustig in distributing honors. Charlotte Strauss undertook to create a tech committee and with her help and that of many other members of that committee we were able to have the equipment and Internet connectivity which we needed to conduct our hybrid services. Last but certainly not least, Andie Epstein and Joan Teich in the office went above and beyond to make sure that everything ran as smoothly as it did. This is not an exhaustive list and please know that I am grateful to every member of our community for your support and assistance.
Now back to Sukkot: if you have ordered a lulav and etrog set from the synagogue they will be available from the office during normal office hours today.
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