We are now celebrating Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles, one of only three pilgrimage holidays in the Torah when all Jews were supposed to visit the Beit Hamikdash – the ancient and holy Temple.
It is, also, incidentally, one of my favorite holidays. It’s one of the few times during the Jewish calendar when we celebrate a holiday unrelated to some nefarious actor trying to murder us. We are encouraged to spend time outside when the weather is arguably it’s most beautiful. We celebrate the harvest, the abundance the land has provided for us. We have the chance to revel in the change of season – from the oppressive heat and greenish gray of the summer to the cooler, milder, fire-colored autumn days.
And, for me, personally, it is one of the few times when my whole family gets together during the year. A fun fact about me is that I am the third of six kids. Evenly divided between girls and boys, there is nothing I love more than having the chance to be with my family. I love hanging out with my siblings and seeing the various dynamics between all the cousins. Nothing compares to the beautiful chaos that arises when 13 adults and 17 children all stay in the same house for 48 – and sometime 72 – hours straight.
As you can imagine, this year’s Sukkot tastes just a little bit sweeter now that I am working at the Lillian and Albert Small Capital Jewish Museum. I am excited to work with this community to find the financial support that will allow us to bring this wonderful museum to so many more people.
During my first visit to the Museum, I was struck by – and felt so much pride for – the incredible legacy that the Jewish community continues to establish in the DC area. Midor lidor – from generation to generation – is so clearly reflected in the Museum and is an important value and concept in Judaism. In fact, you can see how important it is when looking at the Torah verses that discuss the holiday of Sukkot and some of the reasons for its inclusion as a holiday on the calendar. Leviticus chapter 23 verse 43 says:
In order that your generations will know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt – I your God.
“Lmaan yedoo doroteichem” — In order for that your generations know. An idea that we all know pervades this building.
Growing up, I learned that the booths that we build for Sukkot are a temporary reminder of how God protected us in the desert as we transitioned from slaves to free people. Recognizing the newness of the Museum and the decades during which the dream of the physical museum came to fruition, it seems so appropriate that I am beginning my job at this time of year and that we are further establishing the development program here so that the Museum maintains its permanence and can become that legacy — Lmaan yedoo doroteichem: in order that future generations may know.
I want to end with another idea because it feels so appropriate to begin in my new role at this time of year. We are in the time of the Jewish calendar called “Aseret Yimei Teshuvah,” often translated as “10 days of repentance.” Throughout this time, we are encouraged to attend services and pray in at least a minyan – a quorum – to connect as a group and pray for ourselves and the community. It’s a time of reflection – reviewing and evaluating the year that just passed and thinking holistically about our character and actions. It is a time of action – addressing the mistakes or errors made to be better and do better in the year to come. Connect. Reflect. Act. If the steps of this process sound familiar, it should. It is the Museum’s mission.
As we begin this new year – and as I begin this new job – I would like to set the intention for us to embrace the beautiful mission that drives this museum and that we are able to share our passion for it and secure the support we need to ensure its sustainability L’man yaydoo dorteichem – In order that our future generations will know.