Last year I lamented that we were sukkahless in the city.
In New York over Sukkot, our recently purchased prefab sukkah was stored safely in our garage, waiting patiently to be unpacked the next year at home.
We were not wanting for sukkahs that year, they were to be found everywhere, on street corners, at nearby synagogues, on balconies, in backyards.
Still, I missed having a sukkah of my own, with its garlands of plump plastic lemons and apples, its hanging fruit and flowers, its collection of holiday cards from longtime friends. I missed the beautiful silk panels I had splurged on with their Hebrew blessings for joy and thanksgiving, and the lights, oh, how I missed the lights, strung from the its roof, open to the heavens, magnifying the moon’s luminescence, the stars twinkling in the night sky.
And then, this year, Sukkot 2020, the culmination of the holiday season of COVID 19, the high holy days davening on Zoom, the distance chanting from far away places, the round challah and pot of chicken soup, for two.
It has been hard, this socially distanced year, hard being far from those we love, hard being distant from those we cherish, hard being absent from the community.
And yet, it has been an especially meaningful Yamin Noraim, days of awe, for my husband and me, the absences reminding us of the fullness of our lives and the precious blessings of company and companionship, of belonging and sharing, of gathering close. And the need to preserve even a bit of what we have lost.
And so, we decided to put up our sukkah, even as we tracked the COVID numbers, even as we dutifully wore our masks and kept our distance, even as we longed to invite guests, lots of guests, families, groups of friends, to share a festive meal, to talk, to laugh, to experience the joy of the holidays. Even as we knew that was not to be.
Prudently, we decided to limit our numbers and hospitality, inviting just a friend or two for a single serving of white wine or sparkling water, a bite sized nibble or two. And for just a brief moment of time, we managed to catch up on our lives, our kids, ourselves. Managed to recover even a little of the normalcy we so sorely missed, managed our hellos and goodbyes with a touch of an elbow, a feigned blown kiss from beneath a mask. So life continues on, as we navigate the tenuous reality of living in a pandemic, tentatively, safely, beginning to venture out, as we keep an eye on the deadly virus’ path.
And so as Sukkot comes to an end, as the very last moments of asking for forgiveness for our wrongdoings and seeking the promise of being inscribed for another year of life arrive, I am hoping for a year of renewed good health for all, and the promise, of next year, a sukkah at home, not for two, or three or four, but a sukkah overflowing with guests and goodness, and the sweetness of being together.