Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
When you live in the Deep South — and especially when you have to travel a lot for work — sometimes you have to call on unexpected neighbors to help you get your sukkah up in time for the holiday.
My friend and neighbor, Todd (pictured above) had never built a sukkah before. I’m probably the first rabbi to live next door to him. But when I called on him to help with this unique construction project, he immediately lent his very valuable hands. We set to work, and after a couple hours (and about four runs to Home Depot), we had the basic backyard sukkah fashioned in my Jackson, Mississippi, backyard. We admired our work.
He said to me, “Now I can tell my kids I built a sukkah.”
We’re already thinking of ways to improve it for next year. Together.
Meanwhile, the next night, my wife Erica invited some of her friends and neighbors over to finish decorating the sukkah. I’m planning to have my “guys night” this week in the sukkah, where we’ll cheerfully argue about SEC football (how Southern & Jewish does that sound?). Throughout the week, we’ll have friends over to help with decorations, to eat, and to spend quality time together under the hot (and muggy) stars. While some people celebrating Sukkot might have to worry about snow or frostbite, down here we’re still worried about mosquitos and dehydration!
Southern hospitality meshes well with Sukkot hospitality. No matter the weather or the builders, the sense of community this construction can bring is always incredible, Wherever your sukkah is, whichever friends helped you build it, whomever you’ll be welcoming into the space this week, have a wonderful Sukkot.
Pronounced: SOO-kah (oo as in book) or sue-KAH, Origin: Hebrew, the temporary hut built during the Harvest holiday of Sukkot.
Pronounced: sue-KOTE, or SOOH-kuss (oo as in book), Origin: Hebrew, a harvest festival in which Jews eat inside temporary huts, falls in the Jewish month of Tishrei, which usually coincides with September or October.