Voices from the field
Sukkot In Israel: 5 Stories From 5 Siblings
My family grew up in a moshav in northern Israel – my 5 cousins and their parents. As my cousins are getting older, I find it interesting as to what traditions and customs from their upbringing they choose to carry with them through life. So I asked each of them to share a Sukkot memory that left an impact on them. Below are 5 stories from 5 siblings.
This is one example of the many ways Humans Of #IsraelEd can be applied throughout the year. Chag sameach!
“We built a Sukkah at home every year, and one year I had the idea of driving to a nearby mountain – Hurshan Mountain – to collect sticks for our roof. I was young, so I was really excited about this idea. I convinced some of my brothers and sisters that they should join and before I knew it, a few of my family members were on board too! My dad agreed to drive us, and after gathering some sticks, I started gathering leaves and other outdoor items to use for decoration. I remember taking way too many things to even carry. Upon returning to the car, my dad tried to turn on the engine, but the car didn’t start! We had to call my brother, Hanan, to pick us up. But I didn’t want to wait for Hanan – I was getting anxious to go decorate the Sukkah. So I started wandering around the area, and to my surprise, found a wild parrot! I do not see many parrots in my area in Israel – it was such a rare sight. The whole trip ended up being a really fun disaster, and every year when Sukkot comes around I think of this event.”
- Have you ever been lost, but found something?
“I married my wife six years ago, which is when we began celebrating Sukkot at my in-laws’. Everyone in the family is there – including all siblings with their significant others and children, and even her brother who would fly in from the United States. We arrive early in the afternoon to set the kishutim (“decorations”) inside the Sukkah. Last year, my son became old enough to participate in the festivities. He was so happy and I will not forget it – He was running around, playing with his cousins, and for once, actually wanting to participate in Sukkot. Since he decorated the Sukkah he felt he needed to sit inside it. My son was really forming his own Sukkot experience. This long-standing tradition became new again by bringing everyone together in a way that it hadn’t before. By the end of the night I was reflecting a lot on my childhood. Seeing my son in the Sukkah reminded me of when I was a child, growing up with a big family and decorating the Sukkah together. I only hope that he will grow up with the same happy Sukkot memories I have, surrounded by a big family who loves him.”
- Do you have a story that illustrates the theme l’dor vador?
"My most prominent Sukkot memories are from my childhood when everyone still lived in the same house. I remember one time when we all woke up early in the morning to start building the Sukkah. I hate mornings, but I was so excited to wake up for this. Usually my dad puts on the sechach ("roof"), but I wanted to do it this year. My siblings and I were assigned 'jobs' and sechach was mine. But I had to wait several hours before doing so because I had to wait for the walls to get built by my siblings first. I was so eager for my turn that after putting a few branches on, I ended up falling off the ladder and spraining my ankle. I remember this particular Sukkot because I spent the whole time hopping around the Sukkah with a sprained ankle.”
- Why do we keep the traditions we keep?
“For Sukkot one year, my family decided to go to the Gan HaShlosha National Park, also called the Sachne. It was an abnormal decision, but we wanted an adventure. Our plan was to drive the hour-and-a-half in the morning, hang out all day in the sun, then go home for dinner in our Sukkah. We woke up early and went to the Sachne to find it extremely crowded. We waited maybe 45 minutes in a line of cars trying to approach the entrance. Finally, my mom couldn’t stand waiting anymore and she left the line and continued down the road. We stopped at several communities nearby and asked to use their pools, but were unsuccessful. Following that, we went to a few different watering holes where people can swim. Both were packed and there wasn’t even room to park the car. In the end, between the waiting and extra driving around, we were probably in the car an extra two hours. We ended up at a small swimming hole that was so crowded we could barely swim. Everyone was so tired at this point, that we just decided to go home. At home, we had a family party. It was so fun! We played loud music and enjoyed group games. I remember lots of laughter and yelling during the games, all in the best way possible!”
- What makes you and your family laugh?
“One year during the second night of Sukkot I heard small noises coming from outside the Sukkah. I told my family and they said it was nothing – ”just the wind.” At some point toward the end of the meal, I left the Sukkah to go into the house and grab something. When I walked out, there were a bunch of animals standing outside our door! Maybe ten cats and dogs standing right at the entrance of the Sukkah. I started laughing so hard my eyes were watering. My mom always feeds the pets our extra food after Sukkot, so they knew it was coming. They received our leftovers the night before so they were hoping to be fed again. The animals were just waiting anxiously. This is a small memory, but it makes me laugh every time I think of it!”
- What childhood memory stands out for you?