Author Archives: Rabbi Jack Moline

Rabbi Jack Moline

About Rabbi Jack Moline

Rabbi Jack Moline is the rabbi of Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, VA.

Inviting People of All Religions to the Sukkah

There are many contemporary versions of the traditional ushpizin ceremony, in which biblical figures are symbolically invited to the sukkah. In the following version, people of all faiths are invited to share a meal in the sukkah.

Each evening begin:

It is the vision of the prophet Zechariah that the many nations of the world will someday join with us in the celebration of Sukkot. Let us begin that process by inviting into our Sukkah guests from other traditions. (A friend or acquaintance may be invited to share a meal in the Sukkah and welcomed with these words. May they be more than symbolic!)

First evening:

Enter, my Roman Catholic friend(s)….

Second evening:

Enter, my Protestant friend(s)….

Third evening:

Enter, my Moslem friend(s)….

Fourth evening:
Enter my Hindu friend(s)…

Fifth evening:

 Enter my Buddhist friend(s)….

Sixth evening:

Enter my secular friend(s)….

Seventh evening:

 Enter my Jewish friends….

Each evening:

Enter and share my meal. May the day soon come when we all live together in a world free from suffering and pain, a world in which justice and compassion reign, a world in which all people realize that what we share in common is so much greater than what divides us.

Inviting Jews of the World to the Sukkah

The following liturgy, which invites Jews of communities around the globe to the sukkah, is a contemporary twist on the traditional ushpizin ceremony, in which biblical figures are symbolically invited to the sukkah.

Each evening:

Enter, holy guests, and share in this feast. Enter, messengers of Jewish life near and far. Take your place among all those in diaspora gathered in my Sukkah. May we soon be gathered together from the four corners of the earth and walk proud and upright to our homeland.

First evening:

Tonight we invite to our Sukkah the Jews of Eastern Europe, remnants of a once-numerous community decimated by war and persecution. Their academies of learning and thriving culture may no longer shine with former glory, but the spirit of ages past survives in the heart of every Jew.

Second evening:

Tonight we invite to our Sukkah the Jews of Arab lands, who lived in relative peace for centuries among their neighbors. Gathered into Israel by the thousands in our century, their culture survives in their new home. Some small communities remain in their host country, many endangered by government oppression or local prejudice. We hope for
their redemption.

Third evening:

Tonight we invite to our Sukkah the Jews of Mediterranean lands. Their
Sephardic culture enriched our tradition with scholarship, poetry and music as well as colorful heroes and valor in the face of adversity.

Fourth evening:

Tonight we invite to our Sukkah the Jews of Persia, a community which traces its history straight to the Book of Esther. As scholars and merchants, citizens and communal leaders, they played an important role in Persian and Iranian life until recent days. Now, the community is dispersed, and we pray for the safety of those who remain.

Fifth evening:

Tonight we invite to our Sukkah the Jews of Ethiopia, a community lost to us for thousands of years. Their oral history reaches back to the time of King Solomon, and their steadfast dedication to Torah through the years is a miracle exceeded only by their reunification with our people in our homeland.

Inviting Jewish Foremothers to the Sukkah

The traditional ushpizin ceremony–in which various male biblical figures are symbolically invited into the sukkah–has inspired many contemporary versions, which expand upon the set of guests invited to the sukkah. One of the most popular of these new ushpizin ceremonies involves inviting seven femail biblical figures; there are many versions of the liturgy for this ritual and the following is one example;

Each evening:

Enter, holy guests, in the spirit of hospitality.  Enter, nurturing ancestors through whose deeds and devotion our lives are inspired.  Enter our Sukkah and share our meal.  Enter Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Deborah, Ruth and Esther.

First night:

Sarah our mother, whose laughter reached heaven

Enter our Sukkah this first night of seven.

The Holy One blessed you with insight profound.

May we hear your voice; may your wisdom abound.

Second night:

Rebecca our mother, renown for your modesty,

Directed your son on his personal odyssey.

Enter our Sukkah; provide inspiration.

Let your sense of vision encourage our nation.

Third night:

Rachel our mother, beloved and cherished

Devotion completed the path where you perished.

Though exiled children recounted your sorrow

Returning, we promise a brighter tomorrow.

Fourth night:

Leah our mother, whose nurturing care

Provides an example for Jews everywhere,
Enter our Sukkah, and share harvest’s prize

As bountiful as the stars in night skies.

Fifth night:

Deborah our leader, so valiant and wise,

Your judgments were fire that burned in your eyes.

Enter our Sukkah as you sat ‘neath your tree

Dispense to us visions of your prophecy.

Sixth night:       

Ruth our sister, whose choices we laud

In embracing our people, our land and our God,

Enter our Sukkah; your praises we sing,
Grandmother and teacher of David the King.

Seventh night:

Esther our heroine, queen of the land,

You offered your life to thwart Haman’s hand.

Enter our Sukkah, recounting your story
Of how your adventures restored us to glory.

Conclude each night:

Each mother our leader, our teacher, our guide

With gifts from the One who has blessed her.

Ushpizin, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah

Deborah, Ruth and Esther.