A Sukkah of One’s Own

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Jeremy looked out the window to the office and announced it wasn’t raining. “There are a few people with umbrellas,” he said. “But, just, the wimpy ones — you know?”

It was 1:15, a little more than halfway through the day. I decided it was time to make my move. So I jumped out to the street and headed for the Bryant Park Sukkah.

Technically, even during this week when we try to eat every meal inside a sukkah, you don’t have to duck into one of those fanciful little bamboo huts if it’s raining. And I’m at work today in Midtown, not in my awesome neck of Brooklyn with a tabernacle waiting right outside my kitchen.

So you can imagine my surprise when the sukkah — which is made to house several hundred people at a go — was dead empty, except for me and the dude who was minding it, the sukkah gatekeeper. Sort of like Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters, but, well, less Jewish-looking.

Color me disappointed. I remember last year, I had to fight to get through the doors. And today, after a little rain — warm rain, at that — the place is as deserted as a synagogue ten minutes after the end of a fast!? Please, people. This is NEW YORK. You are NEW YORKERS. You aren’t supposed to be afraid of rain. Especially when it isn’t really even raining.

But I ate. It was actually a really incredible experience — just me, this huge space, watching people hustle back and forth outside the tiny wooden door. I’ve said the blessing for eating in a sukkah at least fifty times over this holiday (yes, I snack a lot) but this was the first time I said it with real feeling. Like I’d walked ten blocks and hunted down this sukkah to say it. Like I’d said hi to Rick Moranis and struck up 2 minutes of small-talk with him just so I could say this blessing. So the drops that fell on my head, falling from a decoration posed awry, had purpose. Like I’d earned this blessing to say.

Outside, the sky was gray. Inside, there were weird shopping-mall-like autumnal flourishes of plastic leaves. The zygote-rain gave the inside of the sukkah a fine mist, like the spritz of a squirt-bottle at a barbershop. But do I look wet to you? My hair isn’t even frizzing.

OK, well — maybe it’s frizzing a little.

But you can handle it. You are, after all, New York.

Posted on September 27, 2010

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