Inviting Jewish Foremothers to the Sukkah

A contemporary twist on the traditional ceremony.

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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.
 

Rabbi Jack Moline

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