The Jewish holiday of Sukkot has always been my very favorite holiday. It comes right after Yom Kippur, and I once heard it suggested that the reason for this is because on Yom Kippur we go inward, reflect and repent and try to examine ourselves deeply, but then we are to immediately turn that intensity outward into the community at large. We are not meant to remain so focused inward for too long. It reminds me of what James Hillman argued in his book We’ve Had A Hundred Years of Psychotherapy, and the World’s Gotten Worse! — we are social creatures, our focus must always be on trying to live with one another on this planet.

Two things strike me this Sukkot: One, last night, while putting up our sukkah, an Israeli woman stopped by to watch us. Our congregation is on Newbury street, a major shopping district of Boston, and our congregation shares space and a spiritual home with an Episcopal church that has been there for 150 years. This woman watched us for awhile, and then finally asked “are you building a sukkah?” We said “yes.” She said, clearly flabbergasted, “right here? in front of the church?” We explained that this is our home, and our interfaith partnership. She went on, “they’re OK with that?” Clearly the idea of two religions co-existing peacefully was blowing her mind. And while I am glad our congregation is blowing people’s minds, I am also saddened that it is so mind-blowing. I think it is no accident that this woman who happened to stop was Israeli.

Secondly, I’ve exchanged emails and Facebook comments with someone I love dearly, but who has expressed some views I find deeply saddening. It has been proposed that “the gay community” boycott the 2010 elections, or write in “the gay community” on their ballot to protest Obama’s minimal progress on gay rights. I have certainly felt my share of frustration with the pace of change in this country, but let’s step back a minute – Obama did pass historic health care legislation, and while it is far from perfect, it is a huge step. Obama also passed historic financial regulation, and these issues are just as much “gay issues” as repealing DOMA and DADT.

Our rabbi spoke this High Holy Days about the historic contribution of Reform Judaism, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Reform Judaism. The radical idea Reform Judaism put forth was that Jews should come out of the ghetto, should be a part of secular society while still remaining Jewish. The same message is true for queer people. We must not focus too narrowly on our own causes, and forget that queer people are affected just as much as other people by not having health care, by being poor, by the destruction of our environment. We must ally our struggle with others, so we can all be free. We must remember we are a part of the larger community, not just our own small community. This, to me, is the meaning of Sukkot.

~ by realsupergirl on September 20, 2010.

One Response to “Sukkot”

  1. Sukkot…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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