Summer is transitioning quickly into fall; the air is becoming noticeably crisp and the leaves are beginning to change. The season known best in New England brings along the classic activities and foods such as apple picking, pumpkin carving, apple crisp, and pumpkin pie. Going anywhere, it’s inevitable you’ll breathe in the scent of apples and cinnamon.
My favorite holiday encompasses all of these attributes. Sukkot is the perfect way to kick off fall. It is such a beautiful relief after the solemnity of Yom Kippur. The gathering of friends and family, building and decorating the sukkah, shaking the etrog and lulav, and eating delicious food in a dwelling made by loving hands, are just some of the many heart warming things that Sukkot brings. It’s the perfect time to put into action all of your inner reflections from the past weeks.
I have fond memories of decorating the sukkah with paper chains, gourds, and the doodles I would make during Hebrew class. There’s nothing more joyful than when the congregation goes outside into the sukkah as we hold hands and dance around. As a child, I probably would have compared it to a field trip; a wonderful breakaway from the normal routine of services. I love seeing the whole congregation together outside celebrating. There’s something so happy and fulfilling about connecting the service to the outdoors.
As I adjust to this first month of school, it’s comforting to have the holidays to prepare my mindset for the year. The transitions from summer to fall and from vacation to school can be stressful at times. The classic fall and Sukkot activities are great for keeping calm and remembering what is most important at times of transition. Mayyim Hayyim knows transition well. They have taught me to acknowledge the changes that occur in life and commemorate them in some way. Just like immersing can help you be spiritually and mindfully ready, Sukkot has helped me in similar ways.
Rachel CaraDonna is Mayyim Hayyim’s Development and Events Intern. She just began her third year at Brandeis University as an Economics major with minors in Business and Art History.