Calgary Jewish Federation CEO Adam Silver
By Adam Silver
(Calgary) – I am writing this message [at the end of September] – on the heels of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, and slightly before Sukkot begins. The High Holidays bring community together but are oriented toward internal reflection and a renewed commitment to be our best individual selves in the coming year. Certainly, there is power in seeing our community come together in attending synagogue services, wishing one another greetings, and committing to a personal reset. However, it’s the following chagim, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah that, for me, are much more focused on collective communal experience.
Sukkot offers an opportunity for building and nurturing our sense of community. Also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot is more than just a celebration of harvest; it is a time to come together, share, and strengthen the bonds that unite us.
During Sukkot, we build sukkahs, temporary booths, in our yards or communal spaces. These simple structures serve as a powerful symbol of unity and togetherness. Just as the sukkah’s walls are open and welcoming, our hearts and homes should be open to those around us, fostering a sense of belonging
Here are some ways in which Sukkot encourages community building:
1. Inviting Others In: The holiday is a time to invite friends, family, and even strangers into your sukkah to share meals and celebrate together. It’s an opportunity to connect with others, both within and outside our immediate circles.
2. Shared Traditions: Sukkot comes with unique traditions, such as waving the lulav and etrog – “Four Species” – and spending time sitting, eating, and even sleeping in the sukkah. Engaging in these rituals together with family and friends can create a sense of unity and shared purpose. Jews all over the world are doing similar things at the same time.
3. Reflecting on Gratitude: Sukkot is a time to express gratitude for the harvest and the blessings of life. Sharing these sentiments with others deepens our sense of community and reminds us of the importance of collective thankfulness.
4. Community Sukkot Events: Many of our community’s organizations host communal gatherings during Sukkot. Participating in these events can help us connect with neighbours and build a stronger local community.
5. Acts of Kindness: Emulating the value of hospitality and kindness demonstrated during Sukkot can extend beyond the holiday itself. Engaging in acts of kindness toward others is a way to build and maintain a strong sense of community year-round.
This Sukkot, let us embrace the opportunity to build and strengthen our community bonds. Reach out to neighbors, invite friends over to your sukkah, or join communal celebrations. Use this special time to foster connections, share traditions, and celebrate the beauty of togetherness.
May your Sukkot be filled with warmth, joy, and a deep sense of community and belonging.
Adam Silver is CEO Calgary Jewish Federation.