We were home for Shabbat, Chol HaMoed. It was really nice to sit in our succah. I loved looking up at the pine cones hanging from the ceiling. It was fun identifying who painted what.
"Do you see the giraffe pine cone I painted?" I asked, pointing to a yellow and orange pine cone.
"I made that one!" protested Y, "and also the pig pine cone!" She pointed to a bright pink pine cone, "you can tell; they have the same face!"
"Oh," I said, laughing, "I forgot. I thought I painted it."
"Who made that pretty one?" I asked, pointing to a colorful pine cone, "Is that one of mine?"
"No, Ima," said A, "I painted that one. You could tell," she added, teasing me, "because it's not perfect, like yours are." (All the kids laughed, as did I; we all know that I am a bit overly zealous about painting my pine cones "just so." I even put on a second coat of paint, so that the colors are strong and vivid. I spend more time painting pine cones than the kids do!
It was really nice being together, hanging out in our succah.
My dad was still pretty sick. At night, he joined us for kiddush in the succah, but "ate" inside, because it was too chilly for him in our succah. He didn't even really eat. He had a bowl of "Jewish penicillin" (chicken soup), because my mom "made him," and then he went to bed.
He was feeling a bit better in the morning, and even had some chicken (a small child's portion, but "real" food, nonetheless). He went to bed, soon thereafter.
In the afternoon, some friends came over to Settlers of Catan with MD. That's a great board game! (Thanks Y&ABH!) The boys were loud, but well mannered. It was entertaining to watch them play.
Motz'ai Shabbat (Saturday night), after watching Star Trek, and putting the kids to bed, we went to C&DV's Hanukat HaBayit (housewarming) Succah Party. It was a lot of fun. DV is an excellent story teller! He is so entertaining!! I've been friends with CV for years, and I was so excited when they moved into our neighborhood!!
Sunday, we went "succah hopping"! We woke up early, and went to B&JS, who decided to be creative this year, and have their succah party in the morning. It was great! When we walked in, there was a giant, mutant etrog on the table and a sign up sheet to "name the etrog." Towards the end of the party, we read out all the funny and creative suggestions!
Y really wanted to know "who won?" Apparently, she did. Because IS liked her name ("Etrog the Grouch") the best, and IS was the only one who really spoke up.
From there, we went to L&DS, who have an enormous succah on their front porch. Their daughter's Bat Mitvah was on succot, right after they moved into their home. So, they built a giant succah for the Bat Mitzvah, and have been building the same succah ever since! We got to hang with some of our "frisbeechevra;" well, really just L&DS, and LF. R&DJ arrived just as we were leaving.
Then we went to my in-laws, who always have a spectacular succah. They have beautiful depictions of the Ushpizin, and pictures depicting the Beit HaMikdash, the kaylim (musical instruments and other utensils, used in Temple worship), and Kohanim (priests). The centerpiece is a large square frame, hanging from the "ceiling", with fruits and vegetables suspended in mid-air.
This year, when the kids saw the hanging fruits and vegetables, they were reminded of the succot that the Shomronim built. The similarity was striking, though my in-laws use life-like, plastic, fruits and vegetables.
The table was set artistically, below the fruit/vegetable canopy, with a beige tablecloth, highlighted by a royal maroon runner, and beautiful paper plates.
My mother in law prepared a feast!
We had a wonderful afteroon together.
But the day was not over! In the evening, we went to our friends M&SL, who hosted an "open succah," for members of our shul (synagogue), and residents of our neighborhood.
I had wanted to go to several of the interesting programs for Hoshannah Rabbah. I was especially interested in a play, "Torn," about a teenage boy's serach for meaning in Judaism. But I was too tired, and went to bed.
Moshe also went to bed, but he woke up at 2:00, to attend a 2:30 lecture! Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Woolf, (a.k.a. My Obiter Dicta), a senior lecturer in Bar Ilan University's Talmud Department, used clips from Srugim to trigger a discussion about Modern Orthodoxy, the superficiality of religious belief, doubt as a religious category, and Pan-Halakhism. (he has written several interesting posts about the show). The shiur was at Heichal Shlomo, part of the all-night-Hoshannah-Rabbah program, run by the Ma'alot Film School (for religious filmmakers). According to Moshe, the place was packed!*
Though I was interested in the topic, and Moshe tried to wake me, I chose to sleep instead. I was pretty impressed that Moshe actually woke up and went!
Now comes the brutally honest confession that I did not stay in bed because I have cancer, or because I am tired from chemo. I stayed in bed because I am over 40 and just can't keep the crazy hours I kept when I was 18! I really wanted to go. But I really needed to sleep. (Of course, I don't know what it's like to be over 40 and not have cancer; and Moshe went, and he's over 40; so, go know...)
Still, sleep is good.
And so, for me, Succot ended on Hoshannah Rabbah, not with a bang (thank God!), but with an early night, and a quiet, peaceful, and relaxed morning and afternoon....
May that be a sign for the year to come!
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,
* When Moshe told me the place was packed, I guessed that most of them were 18-25 year olds. I was right ;-)