“I propose we find room in the vaad budget for 2022 to do this to our elevator next Sukkot,” someone wrote on the building WhatsApp. It was erev chag. My parents, three siblings and Bubby were just about to head over for the chag and I saw this message. It was a picture of an elevator turned sukkah and it was so darn cute. “LAAAVIIIIEEEEE” I yelled at the top of my lungs, and my almost-4-year-old came running. “What Ema?!” He is my dramatic one, and I wanted the dramatic effect. “We HAVE to make a Sukkah chain for the elevator RIGHT NOW!” I cried, and immediately the two of us set to work.
Within five minutes, we had a colorful little chain. A half-dressed 6-year-old and a toddler joined us for the complex operation. Lavie held the tape, Shachar kept pressing the button to keep the elevator open, and Ori yelled out “Ma! Ma! Ma!” as we quickly hung up our little chain in the elevator. Once it was done, I went back to cooking, they went back to trashing the house, all in preparation for Sukkot תשפ”ב.
Four years ago, I was eight months pregnant post-Yom Kippur/Erev Sukkot at my sister-in-law’s wedding. Though quite heavy, I managed to dance and have a wonderful time, while my husband went completely overboard with his “let’s make the chatan and kallah happy” and ended up severely twisting his ankle. We finished the beautiful evening in Terem, getting X-rays in our fancy clothes, completely exhausted.
The following morning, my husband on crutches and my belly greeting people around the corner before I did, we realized we couldn’t build our sukkah. So I wrote on the yishuv WhatsApp: Pregnant lady and man on crutches in need of some help in building their sukkah.. Within minutes, I was thanking profusely and turning volunteers away, as my phone exploded with kind offers of help. Twenty minutes later, our sukkah was up. I got snacks and put on music, and thanked those who came to build. It was a beautiful and emotional way to bring in the chag.
Back to this year’s celebrations. Sukkot morning, I wheeled my Bubby into our elevator and realized something was different. In addition to our chain, someone (or perhaps several someones?) added our friend Asher Schwartz’s Sukkot cartoons from the Jewish Press to the walls. There was a fake schach hanging from the ceiling and a few more lanterns and decorations. My kids were overjoyed to see that more of our lovely neighbors had added to the festivities and made our elevator-sukkah so vibrant and fun.
When I was in high school, I spent a good hour or two decorating a sign for the sukkah. It said ושמחת בחגיך והיית אח שמח. Up to that point, I thought that was how the pasuk went — you should be happy during your chagim and you should be a happy brother (or sister, I’m chill). Only after hanging it up, my father pointed out to me that the pasuk is spelled with a chaf — אך שמח, you should only be happy. Lately, I’ve been feeling though, that Sukkot for us has really become one of והיית אח שמח. It’s the time we go out of our homes. We all join in when our neighbors start singing in their sukkah, when people want to bring the simcha of the holiday to the communal areas like the elevator, when we dance around with the Arba Minim all together. Indoor minyan, outdoor minyan, I’m not picky. As long as we all continue to be true to והיית אח שמח and continue to celebrate like the brothers and sisters that we all really are. Spelling mistake or not, I wish you all a Chag Sameach.