Covid Sukkot 2020 with Bears from Bergenfield

Picture taken by me, Rabbi Claire Ginsburg Goldstein, inside my Sukkah Covid 2020.

If only teddy bears could talk. What might they say? As I study the face of each and every teddy bear that line the shelves of the empty drawer unit that Sarah Rose built,  I ask myself time and time again, if only teddy bears could talk. Would they celebrate along with us? Would they complain and wish for more teddy bear appropriate teddy bear accommodations? Or would they follow the lead and fall into line, along with our celebrations.

Strange to be celebrating Sukkot during Covid 2020.  Where are all of the people, the guests? Where is the merriment? Where is the flowing water and wine? Where are all of the Divrei Torahs that I look forward to every year? Alas, I flip the pages of FB looking for anyone who might be or  that is adding some inspiration and well prepared teachings on the spiritual meanings of Sukkot and posting them online. Some people are opening up FB live and sharing there. Some are starting a FB party. Bring the popcorn and be prepared to pick up your chin off the floor.

Picture taken by me, Rabbi Claire Ginsburg Goldstein, inside my Sukkah Covid 2020

What if the teddy bears, originally bound for Israel, were throwing this Sukkot party? How different would it be? Would we recognize what they are organizing? Would there be masks and social distancing? Would there be teddy bear embraces and dances? What would be like our pre-Covid times and what would be changed for health and safety reasons?

I shrug. Who can tell? I sit back in my chair and thumb through the pages of Hallel in my Siddur or in my tehillim book. I find the verse that I am looking for, “Hodu lahashem kee tov. Ke l’olam hasdo.” Psalm 118 verse 1.  That is my sensibility to a “t”.  I am so glad that Hashem wrote the psalms through King David because I could not have written it any clearer. “It is good to give thanks to Hashem because everything that He does is good.  His world is full of kindness that lasts forever.” I remind myself to believe this, internalize it, and repeat it again and again.  It is taught that if you say something or do something three times, it is a habit or “Hazaka”. So then it will become part of me. I trust that it will, in its own time.

I am growing more accustomed to having Covid around and it appears that the pandemic is not going away any time soon.

What gives me peace of mind and peace of spirit is that I once again can sit inside my brand new family Sukkah and feel the quiet of the Sukkah. That quiet and tranquility is paramount to me. If I have quiet, then I can think more clearly and think about what is of the most importance to me.  It reflects upon the teaching that I learned today. Take a look at the outside letters of the word Sukkah. What  comes up? the sameach and the hey. What do they spell? Sah, which means quiet.  If you look at the inside letters, what do you see? the caf and the vov. What do they amount to in gematriya? Twenty Six.  Who is twenty six? Hashem. When you close out the noise from the outside world, you can allow Gd space to speak to you on the inside. You can tap into the Gdly space within.

May you always find that the quiet of the Sukkah allows you to access your Gdly spark. Gd is waiting for you. He left the “light” on. All you have to do is quiet the noise that surrounds you.

Hag Sameach on this Covid Sukkot 2020.

Rabbi Claire Ginsburg Goldstein, the teddy bear rabbi.

About the Author
Rabbi Claire conceived of the concept Bears from Bergenfield upon a routine check of the Israeli staff at camp SLC August of 2001. She realized that the world needed to wake up and become aware of the suffering the Israelis were enduring as the Palestinians continued their intifada against them. After 18 years and 195,000 teddy bears amassed and redistributed, Rabbi Claire is searching for more public platforms to proliferate and advance her message, that Jewish lives matter, especially with a teddy bear. Rabbi Claire lives in Bergen County with her husband of 38 years, Larry, and their 4 children, Sam, Shira, Seth, and Sarah Rose, plus their incoming son-in-law Ivan. For further information of how to get involved with this endearing project, contact her at
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