GIRL TALK: The Lessons of the Sukkah (A Short Story)

Julie Goldstein looked forward each year to the time she and her family built the sukkah.

“Can I invite Sharon to help us,” she asked her mother. “Her family never builds a sukkah, and I know she would love it.”

“Of course,” her mother said.

Sharon and Julie worked hard to build the sukkah with Mr. And Mrs. Goldstein. They carried the boards from the garage, helped hammer the nails. They drove into the country where Julie’s mother had arranged with Mr. and Mrs. O‘Brien to pick some of their corn left standing. They cut down sheaves of corn and loaded them into the trunk of the family car. They drove back and used the stalks for the roof of the sukkah and to help decorate the sides. Then they decorated the sukkah with pumpkins, gourds and all sort of other vegetables. They set up a table in the sukkah, and they sat down.

Mr. Goldstein brought out a plate of cookies and juice. “You girls worked so hard to build the sukkah,” he said. “You deserve some refreshments.” He left he cookies and juice on the table and went inside.

The two girls sat in the newly built sukkah and enjoyed the warm breeze that flowed through it.

“That was fun,” Sharon said, “but why do you build the sukkah in the first place?”

”Well,” said Julie, “lots of reasons. First of all it says in the Torah that God wants us to build it to remind us of the temporary huts our people lived in when we left slavery in Egypt and wandered in the Promised Land.”

“But don’t we celebrate that at Passover,” Sharon asked?

“Yes, but then we think about what it is like to be slaves. On Sukkot we think about how hard it is to move from place to place and have very little. There are lots of people who live like that, and Sukkot reminds us how we can help them.”

“Last week,” Sharon said, “my family and I helped build a house for people who don’t have one. That sounds like one of the reasons we build the sukkah.”

“It sure does,” Julie agreed. “You must have felt great when you finished.”

“It was wonderful,” Sharon answered. “The family was so happy when they moved in. I can still see the expression on the children’s faces. Are there any other reasons to build the sukkah?”

“Many,” said Julie. “Sukkot celebrates the harvest. It reminds us that there are so many people who do not have a harvest—who do not have enough to eat.”

“Didn’t we think of them at our food drive at Yom Kippur?”

“Sure,” answered Julie, “but we could have a food drive everyday, and people would still be hungry. Sukkot reminds us how lucky we are.”

As the day gave way to night Julie and Sharon noticed how beautiful the almost full moon looked. “The moon will be completely full on the first night of Sukkot tomorrow,” Julie said.

“When I sit in the sukkah,” she continued, “and look up at the stars I feel closer to God. It makes me feel like a partner with God in trying to make the world a better place. At Temple the rabbi taught us that God wants us all to use our talents to make a better world. Sukkot makes me think about that.”

“Maybe,” Sharon answered, “that’s the best reason of all to build the sukkah,” as the two girls looked at the stars together.

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