My U-Haul Sukkot

Gordon Family U-Haul Sukkah 1976.One of my earliest childhood memories was Sukkot of 1976, when I was 3.5 years old. I remember sitting in the family Sukkah, looking up through the branches that formed the roof, at the clouds as they whisked across the sky. We lived in a 17-story condominium and there was no obvious place to build a Sukkah. My father (of blessed memory), an Orthodox rabbi, asked permission to build a Sukkah in his designated parking space. When his request was turned down by the condominium board, my mother came up with the idea of building our Sukkah on the back of a U-Haul trailer. Continue reading

Hebrew Voices #78 – Chinese Origin of the Sukkot Etrog

In this episode of Hebrew Voices, Chinese Origin of the Sukkot Etrog, Nehemia Gordon talks with ordained-rabbi Dr. David Moster about the "fruit" we are commanded to use on the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:40). They discuss how the Citron or "Esrog" arrived in the Land of Israel in the Persian Period, how it played an important role in the rise of the Pharisees, and how it eventually became the distinctive symbol of Judaism - replacing God's holy name. Their conversation explores the Orthodox, Samaritan, and Karaite interpretations of Lev 23:40, its function in the Feast of Booths, and why a southeast Asian-Jewish fruit is a key ingredient in traditional Christmas cakes. Continue reading

Ushpizin – My Favorite Movie

Ushpizin Movie

One Sukkot tradition I have developed over the years is watching the Israeli movie Ushpizin. This movie is really clever because it takes one of the classic Hollywood movie genres, the "Christmas Miracle," and transposes it to Israel. Of course, in Israel it would not make sense to have a movie about Christmas, so Ushpizin is about a Sukkot Miracle. Continue reading