Education Program Update – Sunday, September 20, 2015
Posted on September 30, 2015
It was another busy Sunday morning at Temple Israel! As I walked through the halls I heard talk of sukkot all around me! Sukkot is also known as Zman Simchateinu, the time of joy. I think we are internalizing joy very well at Temple Israel. Joy abounded. Sukkah decorations have been created using every art medium you can imagine and I heard lots of talk about hachnasat orchim/welcoming guests. Many classes were learning about Ushpizin. Ushpizin are the spiritual guests we welcome into our sukkot each night. Traditionally these are biblical figures like Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Leah and Rachel. But today I like to think of the Ushpizin that I would like to welcome to my sukkah and share a meal with: a grandparent, a friend who live far away, a sports hero, a role model, a political activist, you name it and they can by your Ushpizin!
This coming Sunday we have our annual Sukkah Walks. The students will leave Temple Israel after tefilah which will include singing hallel with the minyan and then beating willows (more on that below). Please make sure you have given permission for your child to attend a sukkah walk with their class. An email permission slip was sent on 9/27. Email me if you need it resent.
Why, you wonder, are we beating willow? Sunday (10/4) is Hoshanah Rabah, the seventh day of Sukkot. This day is marked by a special service in which seven circuits are made by the worshippers with their lulavand etrog. Hoshana Rabbah is known as the last of the Days of Judgment which began on Rosh Hashanah. The Zohar says that while the judgment for the new year is sealed on Yom Kippur, it is not “delivered” until the end Hoshana Rabbah.
In this spirit the Cantor wears a white kittel as on the Yom Kippur. At the conclusion of services the willowbranches from the lulav are beaten on the ground or other surface to symbolize the elimination of sin and as a symbolic a prayer for rain and success in agriculture.