What a devastating, exhausting, overwhelming and inspiring couple of days it has been. As the flood waters subside, we see how much destruction has been in its path and how much work there is to do. I am so moved and grateful for how many volunteers have showed up to help at Bonai, at my house and around town, helping out people in the community with whatever is needed. .There has also been such an outpouring of love and support from friends and colleagues around the country. Volunteers from the Camp Ramah community drove up from Denver to help us with the clean-up efforts yesterday and more on their way. Several rabbis on the east coast whose communities were badly effected by Hurricane Sandy have reached out to me in support.
Wednesday night, my favorite of all our holidays begins, Sukkot, known by the rabbis as zman simchateynu – the season of our joy. For many of us, it is going to be very challenging to enter a Sukkah and to get to that feeling of joy in the aftermath of the destruction. Reb Shlomo Carlebach described this as “the festival of voluntary homelessness” as we make a temporary dwelling our primary residence. Many, many people in our region, including some Bonai families, have been left homeless without any choice and through trauma. A powerful, painful irony.
One of the biblical names for Sukkot is Chag HaAssif, the festival of ingathering for the harvest. Assif means gathering and we need to gather, to be together and to celebrate as much as we can, expressing gratitude for all that we still have and for the power of community.
It is not yet clear whether we will be able to have our Sukkot events and services at Bonai Shalom with the building as it is and our beautiful Sukkah a pile of rubble, but it is looking unlikely at this point.
The first yahrzeit for our beloved Froma Fallik is tomorrow and we were hoping to gather for a potluck dinner in the Sukkah in her memory, but sadly we are going to have to postpone this and cancel the scheduled Friday night dinner. May Froma’s memory be a blessing for us all!
Please look for emails later today and tomorrow with updates on our Sukkot celebrations. We really are hoping to find a way to be together. If we can’t, we strongly encourage people to gather in their neighborhoods. If you have a Sukkah, please reach out to other families in your ‘hood and sit in the Sukkah together, sharing our flood stories, singing in gratitude for our lives and our loved ones. In the event of needing to cancel Bonai’s services, we will also let you know all that is going on around town. Our neighbors, Aish Kodesh, are building a big Sukkah today and opening it and their services to the wider community.
As we see the blue skies and sunshine, may we find the courage and the patience for our rebuilding and from the fear and darkness of what has been lost, may we find light and hope in this season of joy!