Student Corner: Community Within a Community

Erin Starr

Community is so important to us; it is the foundation of Jewish traditions as well as culture.

The Sukkot holiday we recently celebrated is where we build temporary structures to remember when the Jewish people struggled to establish a permanent home after being liberated from Egypt. At the time of the Temple, the Jewish people gathered near or far in the holy city of Jerusalem. They gathered in community to read excerpts from the Torah during Chol HaMoed. It was important for the Jewish Nation to come together in Jerusalem at the Temple, after all the hardships they had gone through and survived.

Sukkot is a holiday surrounding the act of ushpizin, a word from Arabic, or English, welcoming guests. It is a mitzvah to gather guests to have a meal together inside a sukkah. Inviting guests during this holiday is just one way for the Jewish people to form a community.

Community is so important to us; it is the foundation of Jewish traditions as well as culture. It is said in the Torah: “You will rejoice in your feast” (Deuteronomy 16:14). Regarding Sukkot in the Torah, we recognize this act of welcoming others when Abraham, our first patriarch, sat outside his tent waiting to invite guests inside, so that can serve them a well-prepared meal and make them feel at home. Additionally, our Sages have expressed that true joy is shared joy, which is why sharing our space with guests at Sukkot brings so much joy.

The Jewish people celebrate Sukkot for seven days, that’s because we refer to the invitation of one of the “founding fathers” every day. The first day represents the invitation of Abraham, which brings us love. The second day represents Isaac, who brings us discipline. The third is Jacob, bringing us the truth; the fourth is Moses, producing endurance. The fifth, representing Aaron, brings humility, the sixth, Joseph, brings connection, and the seventh, David, brings us leadership.

For example, the act of ushpizin can be linked to the community of Leeza’s Cafe, a restaurant where my family has dined for as long as I can remember. We have established a meaningful relationship with Liza, the owner, and her kind-hearted employees. I’m always greeted with a smile and the employees will even sit down with my family and talk to us about anything that might be interesting at the time. I always leave the restaurant with a sense of community and joy.

I believe the connections that Liza and her staff have made with the community are one of the many reasons why everyone enjoys this restaurant so much. It is safe to say that Liza and her staff constantly do the good deed of welcoming guests, just as the Jewish people do during the seven days of Sukkot.

Erin Starr is a senior at Frankel Jewish Academy.

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