Marcia Gabrilove Ladin
Vice Chair, Hadassah Young Judaea

Celebrating Sukkot with Our Almost Annual Family Sukkah

Photo supplied by the author.
Photo courtesy of the author.

The holiday of Sukkot is almost over, maybe over by the time this is posted. But this season of joy reminds me of all the wonderful years our family has had building a sukkah.

Since 1979, my husband Scott, along with our kids and many friends, have put up a sukkah, skipping only a few years during that time. The first one, built to fit on our four by eight-foot apartment balcony, was one of wood and burlap. Each piece was labeled with a letter to make it easy to figure out which side was which. We cut down the corn stalks from a local farm field and made simple decorations. Because it was on the main street in our “yuppie neighborhood” many walked past and some shouted “Chag Sameach.”

After about 18 years, with many of the parts really worn out, we found online plans for a lattice and wood pole sukkah and built that latest version for about ten plus years, in the backyard of two different homes, until a terrible storm destroyed it during the holiday.

We missed a year or so after that, due to my travel to Israel and a few other issues. But I finally said we need an updated version and bought connectors and a tarp from a place in the northwest United States (that also sold auto and boat temporary shelters) and went to the local hardware store for the metal piping to use as framing poles. This one has been the easiest to put together and to take down, and the most fun to decorate with leaf garlands, tuille, and lights along with bamboo roofing.

Each year at this time, I get a bit sentimental, especially as I look at the photos from over the years. It never mattered how simple or full our sukkah was, what mattered most are the family and friends who helped us build the sukkah or celebrate in it. In the early years, we were one of the few of our friends to build a sukkah. We held sukkah building and decorating parties, so our enlarging circle of friends could experience the joy of building a sukkah. The kids would make paper and popcorn chains and drawings to hang up, while the adults put the sukkah framing together. One year, when Scott had to travel for business over all the holidays, our friends were right there ready to build and decorate without him. Several of the kids even shared their memories of our sukkah during their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. I kvelled in knowing that we made an impact on their Jewish lives.

The author’s family in the family sukkah. Photo courtesy of the author.

As we end the holiday this fall, I am reminded once again of the importance of sharing the holidays with others. What can we each do to keep the celebrations and customs alive for future generations? How do we bring joy to someone whose family no longer lives nearby. Aside from building our sukkah and inviting others to be with us for other holidays as well, is through my role in Hadassah as the Vice Chair of Young Judaea.

In 2012, Hadassah spun off Young Judaea after almost 45 years as the “sole owner.” It was time to give Young Judaea, now known as Young Judaea Global, its wings to fly and to grow. But today, we are still a partner with Young Judaea Global, raising scholarship funds for camps and Israel programs, and supporting them through an Allocation Grant. We at Hadassah believe that Young Judaea is the best way to engage our youth, build strong leaders, and to ensure a love of Israel and Zionism in future generations.

As we end the holiday, think about sending your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, on a Young Judaea program – day and overnight camps, Israel for a summer on Gesher, or on the premier gap year around, Young Judaea Year Course. I guarantee that these programs will change their lives, maybe yours as well.

Together, You and I can change the world. Young Judaea’s motto. Hadassah is together with Young Judaea. So am I. Chag Sameach.

To learn more about Young Judaea, view this video.

About the Author
Marcia Gabrilove Ladin of Rochester, New York is the Co-coordinator of the Marketing and Communication Division, and the Vice Chair of Young Judaea, at Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. Inc. (HWZOA). Previously, Marcia served as a National Vice President, the Vice Coordinator of the Executive Division, National Board Member and co-chaired the 2014 National Convention in Las Vegas. Before that, she completed four years as the Young Judaea Scholarship chair and continues as a member of the scholarship allocations team. Marcia has also held the National portfolios of Young Judaea Fundraising Vice-Chair, Hadassah Northeast (HNE) Co-op Chair, Henrietta Szold Women's Hall of Fame Chair and National Chair of Bulletins and Publications. Marcia served as President of the Upper New York State Region (now part of Hadassah Northern New England), from 2000 to 2003. Prior to that, she was active on her Hadassah Region Board, serving in multiple areas of fundraising, programming, Young Judaea and Conference chairs. Locally, Marcia is an advisor and print bulletin chair to the Rochester Chapter. Marcia holds a Bachelor of Science in Package Design from the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she met husband through their mutual activities in Hillel. She owned a retail stationery and gift shop for over 25 years and currently continues the business as an in-home studio. She is also an accomplished calligrapher. Her most inspirational work was inscribing over 2000 names in a Holocaust Remembrance Book, commissioned by the Rochester Jewish Community Federation.
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