Ellis Shuman

No More Shana Tova Cards in the Mail

How can you decorate your sukkah with Shana Tova greetings received by phone and email?

My mobile phone buzzed to announce an incoming text message. “To all the residents of the Mate Yehuda Regional Council: The coming year should be a year of health and success, prosperity, peace, security, and…”

The message was cut off, but then my phone buzzed again as I received the second part. “Always at your service,” the message concluded, listing the head of the council in the signature.

This was not the first New Years greeting that I had received by phone. Previously I received blessings from my bank, a rental car agency, a subscription-based lottery service that somehow had me on its list and a few colleagues and friends.

It’s a simple task to reply, but somehow I don’t feel the need to wish a Shana Tova to my bank or to the head of the local regional council.

Shana Tova greetings have been arriving in my email inbox as well, some of them from people I care about and others from companies with which I have done business in the past. Some of the mails are personal, almost like letters, while others are family newsletters and include photographs of children and grandchildren. Some send a simple graphical image of apples and honey. And then there are the musical cards that render the favorite Rosh Hashanah liturgy in the annoying tones of elevator music.

Facebook friends wish each other a Shana Tova on a one by one basis, or en masse; the best images are shared by hundreds, if not by thousands. One can chat or text a Shana Tova, but the advance of technology leaves me with a serious problem – how to decorate my sukkah.

Back in the olden days, before all of this digital nonsense, the many colorful cards my family received in the mail during the holiday season would be pinned to the fabric walls of the sukkah on our back patio. The ink and colors would run in the autumn rains, but nevertheless the cards would be carefully packed away, year by year, to bring back memories of previous holidays each time we reconstructed our sukkah.

Surely the Internet age can offer some new technology for decorating a sukkah. Perhaps a digital album strung carefully from the sechach would be halachically acceptable, as long as its display is not visible on Shabbat and holiday.

Alternatively, the Biblical verse can be interpreted with a nod to the modern age. “For a seven day period you shall live in Internet booths…“ That should solve the problem.

About the Author
Ellis Shuman made aliya to Jerusalem as a teenager, served in the IDF, was a founding member of a kibbutz, and now lives on Moshav Neve Ilan. Ellis is the author of ‘The Burgas Affair’ – a crime thriller set in Israel and Bulgaria; ‘Valley of Thracians’ - a suspense novel set in Bulgaria; and 'The Virtual Kibbutz' - a collection of short stories. His writing has appeared in The Times of Israel, The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Insider, and on a wide range of Internet websites. Ellis lived with his wife for two years in Bulgaria, and blogs regularly about Israel, Bulgaria, books, and writing.