meeting with family

some of my grandchildren looking at my recent photos

I’ve gotten a number of letters from internet friends abroad, saying that now that the holidays are over, I’m probably on my way back to normal life. Actually, nothing of the sort! Right now, we’re at the height of the holiday season here in Israel. We’ve ushered in the new year, had a bit of introspection and soul searching, which peaked with the day of atonement which was a day of fasting. Now we’ve started the holiday of booths, also known as Sukkoth, which lasts a week, In this holiday, people move out of their homes, and into little huts, with roofs that are covered with branches, or date leaves, which become their homes for a week. This experience reminds us of what it’s like to look for freedom… what it was like to leave slavery in Egypt and go back to our ancestral home in Israel, over three and a half thousand years ago!

a booth built outside their home

Some people celebrate with friends and family in these temporary booths, built alongside their regular homes, sometimes in a back yard, sometimes in their parking lots… you see them all over. Others go off for vacation, even though it’s exactly the opposite weather of what you’d choose for vacation. Often it rains around this time. In fact, we got a little rain last night, though this time, we have been experiencing tropical weather, which is much more unusual. The rain was hot! And yesterday, 5000 homes were disconnected from electricity, but most of the damage has been repaired.

booths built on balconies

I have set this week aside, for getting together with children and grand children, all around the country, and so, have not had much time for visiting blogs, or even answering the comments on my last blog post. But don’t worry about me. This holiday is considered the happiest on the Jewish calendar, Everywhere I go, people are sharing wonderful food and good stories, And even those who got stuck in traffic jams going ‘off to nature’ or those sitting in booths that got rained on… kept on celebrating. There will be stories and pictures in the future. Meantime, we’re having a lot of fun, and adventures. See you later.


60 responses to “meeting with family

  1. Shimon enjoy the holiday! And thank you for discussing the booths. We have an area close to where I live with a large Jewish community and noticed these booths set up on so many of the apartments balconies. Now I know why!

    • How nice that I was able to supply you with the answer to this mystery. Yes, Marina. For a week in the year, we Jews move out of our houses, and live in a shack… in order to remind ourselves that everything is temporary, and not to take things for granted. It is the one holiday in which we are instructed particularly to be happy. A very special holiday.

  2. Enjoy your holiday season Shimon!

  3. I have never heard of this Shimon, fascinating to me! How many grandchildren do you have?

  4. Dear Shimonz,

    How fascinating! I love the concept of booths (Sukkoth) and thank you for showing me what they look like. It sounds a bit like camping, doesn’t it? It seems to be a different way of living for a short while. It must be refreshing afterwards. Do people still keep their luxuries in the booths? Or are they meant to be cleansed and pure? Enjoy your family gathering!

    • It is very much like camping, and some people actually go out to nature to perform this precept. What makes it a little unusual, is the timing. We don’t do it in the middle of the summer, when it would be most comfortable and suitable, but in the fall, as the days begin to be a little cooler, and sometimes there’s a drizzle, or even rain. And our teachers tell us that this is part of the exercise, so that we will be more aware of what the world is like without our solid houses to protect us from the elements. Thank you for your comment, Janet.

  5. Practising one’s faith – it’s the best thing to do with it! Glad you’re having a great time. I love the picture of your grandchildren looking at your photos. Absolute absorption, as only a child knows how.

    • I so agree with you, Gill. Even though everyone has to find their own way. I have seen young people who turn their faith into a rather shallow decoration of life… but then find some exotic practice from the far east… sometimes yoga, and practice that very religiously. Whatever works for the individual. But I do believe that it adds to the pleasure of life, when one has a path.

  6. Thank you, Shimon, for sharing your life with us! It is a joy to hear about your family and your faith. Happy holidays!

  7. Thanks for sharing your traditions as I continue to learn. Love the picture of your grandchildren. Continue enjoying your holiday!

    • Thank you very much, Frank. I have already returned home, and am now trying to grapple with ‘normal life’. It was a good experience, and gave me a renewed perspective, but it is very good to be home again.

  8. Your grandchildren are beautiful; I can see the light they exude! Thank you so much for sharing the deep traditions and holy celebrations of your faith, Shimon. Joy to your gatherings and peace to your partings.

    • Thank you very much for your good wishes, Catherine. It was a great pleasure to take a break from what’s normal and routine, and to meet with friends and family. And now it’s very good too, to return to my life as I know it, and get back to those day to day things, with renewed spirit.

  9. Your grandchildren all look so beautiful….. I’m glad to read you are having a lovely time celebrating with friends and family and it is so interesting to read about the shelters and see the pictures of them and about what they represent. I think this is the third year I’ve reading your blog post about this time of year… time is racing along!

    • Thank you very much, Rosie. It was a wonderful time, and now we are already ‘after the holidays’, and good to return to the well known existence. I do mention it every year… and sometimes wonder if it doesn’t get boring. But there are always a lot of new readers, and I think it’s such an important time of my year, that I have to mention it again and again. Always so very good to hear from you.

  10. Enjoy this week of Sukkot, its sweetness and its joy. Thank you for sharing pictures of your beautiful grandchildren (‘some’ of them, Shimon? How many are you blessed with?) and the different ways that one can build a sukkah…

    • Yes, Mimi. There are so many ways of building a sukkah, and then decorating them. It could be a very interesting subject on its own. I have been blessed with 20 grandchildren, ranging in ages from adults to young children. Each one is different. Thank you very much for your comment.

  11. Enjoy the company of your family. It really is our most important. possession.

    • Thank you very much for your sweet wishes, Fatima. Yes, family is a great pleasure. But it is also very important to have a balance between all the different parts of our lives. So often we get caught up in one aspect of life, and lose track of everything else.

  12. aw Shimon this post warms my heart. Is reminiscent also of how we celebrate the Christmas holidays in the Caribbean. Have a lovely time and “see” you soon 🙂

    • How nice that you celebrate Christmas in that way. It actually occurred to me at one time, that the bringing of a ‘Christmas tree’ into the home on that holiday is a reminder of nature, and similar in a way to our practice. Thank you for your beautiful comment.

  13. It’s so wonderful to hear of the boothes again, it hardly seems a year since I last read about them. I do enjoy sharing and learning about your culture Shimon, so rich and vibrant it is.
    I hope you didn’t lose your electricity supply…..our weather is most odd to, a taste of things to come worldwide I think.
    You are so lucky so have so many adorable Grandchildren…….delightful they are.xxxxx

    • Yes, the grandchildren remind me that the world goes on… and that others will handle things. It makes life easier. Fortunately, we had electricity almost all the time. Just a few breaks for a couple minutes each. No bother. And that tropical storm is already behind us, and the weather is really nice. Nechama is very happy to have me back. All is well. Thanks for your comment, Dina.

  14. Enjoy, soon everything will be back to the daily routine.

  15. Yet another reason you are such an admirable people.

  16. Beautiful insight into a wonderful tradition, Shimon.

  17. Israel knows how to have a holiday! It sounds like you do it right. Beautiful grandchildren. What a gift!

    • Thank you Jordan. We’re an ancient people. And so our culture is very integral to our life style. I’m glad you like it. Thanks for your kind words. I’m very grateful for the sort of life I have.

  18. What beautiful grandchildren! How many do you have altogether? How distant do they live from you? One can only imagine the tales you can share with them, not to mention amazing pictures! 🙂

    I am curious about the stay in the booths, what ammenties are taken along? I think this would be a good annual experience for everyone to undertake, it would certainly make us mindful of all the comforts and conveniences we have.

    I am glad you are so enjoying this holiday time with family and friends, I love the making of good memories and times shared!

    • I am very fortunate to have 20 grandchildren, ranging in ages from adults to small children. They are scattered around the country, and so on a holiday like this, I pack up the car, and go visiting a lot. Though the booths are meant to remind us of a hurried exit from Egypt, and the fact that our homes, and life itself are not permanent… it is okay to take whatever you want with you to the booths. So there are some who live in 21st century luxury, and you can see laptops around… and others who choose the greatest simplicity, and it’s much like camping. It’s a personal or family choice. Thanks very much for your comment, Josie.

  19. Glad you are getting a nice long break, and enjoying your children and grandchildren. Hasta la vista!

  20. WOW! I haven’t heard this before… Interesting. How many grandchildren… Wonderful moments should be. Blessing and Happiness to you and to your family. Thanks and Love, nia

    • Yes, Nia, these are very happy days. We’ve just finished with the holidays now, and are going back to normal life, which is quite nice too. I have 20 grandchildren, so I’m a weathered grandpa. Thanks so much for your good wishes.

  21. How lovely to see your grandchildren looking at your laptop and how nice for them to have such a creative grandfather.
    A lovely time of the year now for all families.Let’s hope that tropical rain kept off!Still it would save having a shower!

    • Yes, being a grandfather opens up a lot of possibilities for communication, and it is a pleasure to share some of what I do with my grandchildren. Unfortunately, most of them don’t understand English, so they won’t be reading this blog… but there are a lot of other things that I’m involved with, and it is a pleasure to share with them. The tropical rain has gone… and we have beautiful weather now. Thanks for your comment, Kathryn.

  22. what a fascinating tradition

  23. How interesting! Glad you are enjoying your holiday and spending precious time with your family.

  24. So lovely to hear you are enjoying yourself and surrounded by a happy host of children, grandchildren and family! I can think of no warmer days. There is obviously much awe and great interest from the young ones judging from their eyes peeled to your photos! My warmest greetings to you during this holiday season. I find it absolutely enriching learning more about your culture everytime my dear Shimon. Hugs, Yuen

    • Thank you very much, Yuen. It was a very beautiful time, and there were so many different pleasures. I thought a lot about the fact that when life gets really intensive, we don’t have much time for anything else… and this because I would open the computer from time to time, but really didn’t find enough time, to relate to the many beautiful things I found on blogs that I follow. And didn’t even answer the comments I got to my posts. Now as I return to real life, I try to catch up… but life keeps moving forward. Thank you so much for your comment.

  25. Enjoy your holidays and time with family.

  26. I read about Sukkoth. If I were a child, I would happily enjoy the freedom of it. As an old woman, the significance and truth of it would nudge me to remember the the long road from Egypt. I am thinking of family and the old stories and the shared experience of this holiday. I understand how it is considered to be the happiest holiday. Thank you for sharing the photographs. I am smiling as I envision your joyful visits with family. At our age, these times are especially meaningful and often bittersweet.

    • It is quite true, that these long holidays are sometimes bittersweet. Not because we remember the travail of our exit from Egypt, for that has long ago been incorporated into our collective understanding of our origins. But taking a break from ‘real life’ and seeing so many things from a different perspective… being in the company of my grandchildren, and watching how they deal with the problems of growing up… and sometimes, how my children handle certain things differently from the way we did, back a few years… there is much to think about. On the whole, though, it was a very sweet time, And after a very intensive time, it is good to get back to my regular existence, even if a lot of it is routine. Thank you for your comment, George.

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