My husband and I were blessed to have been able to go to Israel numerous times and eventually maintain a home in Jerusalem. It was such a blessing to be there in the Land amongst our Jewish friends for their special holidays. They always invited us to come and participate and we did, soaking up the customs and traditions and learning much from them.
David and I were saddened when he became ill and we could no longer travel to Israel. That first fall, as the time for Succot (Feast of Tabernacles) was coming I felt I had to do something to satisfy our longing to be in Israel. All of a sudden I knew what I should do – we would celebrate Succot here in our own back yard in Oklahoma! It was a wildly, wonderfully, crazy idea but it was right! David said, “You are crazy!” I said, “Yes, I know. But if we can’t be in Israel then let’s bring Israel to us.” And we did.
I borrowed a garage size, beautiful white tent from my son to be used as the succa.. He and his friend even came and put it up in the back yard over the patio, leaving the roof off because one of the traditions is that you are supposed to use palm fronds for the roof so you can see the stars. There aren’t palm fronds in Oklahoma and I didn’t think it would be prudent to have any shipped in so we did the next best thing. I dashed off to the big box store and bought 4’x8′ white lattice pieces for our roof – 10 beautifully white pieces of plastic that would allow us to see the stars.
Derryk, our son, and his friend, figured out how to make the lattice stay on the pitched roof frame by using rope. After all, this is to be a temporary structure so the rope was a perfect solution. I strung a long outdoor extension cord to the succa and we hooked up twinkling lights I had found at the hardware store to light the interior of the succa. We hung beautiful blue and white decorations that closely resembled Christmas ornaments, extending them from the pitch of the open roof to where they were closer to us. Blue and silver garland added a festive flare as we looped it from one end of the succa and back again.
Relying on the memories of my friends’ succas in Israel, we hung fruits (plastic, of course) that represented the season, artificial birds, and whatever else seemed appropriate. We invited our friends to come and be a part of this amazing succa, bringing whatever ornaments they wanted to hang in it.
Perhaps the thing that pleased and excited both David and me the most was the 8 x 10 full color photos of our Israeli friends that I printed out, placed into plastic protective sleeves and affixed on the sides of the tent. Truly, our friends could be there with us and they were, in spirit if no other way.
God favored us with wonderful weather for the eight days and we enjoyed almost every meal in the succa. Even though David was somewhat frail, he was determined to make it out to the yard, to sit in the succa and remember the sights, sounds and smells of our beloved Israel at this time of the year. What had been a crazy idea had turned into a wonderful blessing for us personally and for our Oklahoma friends as well.
Over the years, we enjoyed the succa, shared it with others, answered questions of neighbors walking by on the pathway that runs behind our houses and, in general, have loved it. It became a tradition that we loved, a joy to those that participated in the work – and it is work – of putting it up, taking it down and storing it away.
With all of the preparations for the succa, we experienced the joy of doing something that God had ordained for no other reason than we wanted to. It truly was a joy. It became a tremendous time of teaching as we shared with others. To this day, I would recommend anyone consider erecting their own succa – it doesn’t have to be a garage sized tent, but whatever you can put up for a short time – 8 days – and participated in a Feast of the Lord.