At Sukkot the custom of Ushpizin, offers us a chance, to be as welcoming and as inclusive as we would like to be. Traditionally, the Ushpizin are biblical figures who we symbolically invite to join us in the sukkah, bringing their legacy in to guide us in the here and now. Whether or not you have a sukkah, we invite you to get in on the fun. We have created a list of global Jewish figures who we can invite to join us at the table during Sukkot (October 17-23). Have one ‘visitor’ join you each day, or have them all come together! We think their stories are worth celebrating and will remind us of how the historic diversity of Jewish life can enrich our modern lives.
Lady Judith and Sir Moses Montefiore –This 19th-century couple were a ‘mixed’ marriage. Lady Montefiore was born into a prominent Ashkenazi family and he into a prominent Sephardi family. In coming together they formed a formidable team that not only socializing at the highest levels of British society but also advocating for Jews around the world. In 1840 they went to Damascus to defend the community against a Blood Libel (accusation that Jews murdered Christian babies). In 1846, they went to Russia to protest expulsions of Jews from borderlands. Additionally they were frequent visitors and strong supporters of Jewish life in the Holy Land. They are a timeless model of the global nature and value of Jewish community.
Rabbi Moses Maimonides – “From Moses to Moses, there was none like Moses.” So reads the epitaph on the tombstone of Moses ben Maimon , whose extraordinary rabbinic wisdom made him stand out among generations of Jewish scholars and leaders. Maimonides or The Rambam, as he was also know, also made strong contributions as a physician and philosopher and was well known among the Muslims of his time as well. His legacy of exceptional Jewish intellectual religious thought as well as connection with non-Jewish scholars provides a model for generations of Jewish learning and community engagement to this day.