This is what happens in the Boulder Jewish Community. On the first day of Sukkot 80 mph wind gusts whipped through Boulder. The JCC’s sukkah that had just been built outside Levin Hall was damaged beyond repair. The preschoolers in our Early Childhood Center (ECC) were busy building their own small sukkahs on their playgrounds, but we had lost our communal JCC sukkah.
Bonai Shalom graciously invited the JCC to host a number of programs at their sukkah, which had survived the wind. The ECC’s “yoga in the sukkah” and ACE’s “musical happy hour” and “Rabbi’s roundtable” moved their events across the street to Bonai’s sukkah. Our immediate problem was solved, but we had a school wide sukkot picnic scheduled for Thursday evening and no sukkah.
One of our dedicated preschool teachers volunteered to pick up building materials, but we didn’t have time to put up a new sukkah without help. Susie, our school director, sent out an email to all the ECC parents asking for volunteers and within the hour, we had enough people committed to help. So, on a sunny Thursday afternoon at 3pm, a group of parent volunteers met outside the JCC and built a new sukkah. It was smaller than the original, but sturdier (made out of wood).
Children arrived in the early afternoon to hang up the decorations they had made. Families met outside the new JCC sukkah with picnic dinners and children, parents, and grandparents took turns shaking the lulav and etrog within its walls. We danced, juggled, blew bubbles, sang, ate, and met new friends.
This is what happens at the JCC. Community isn’t just our middle name, it is what brings us together and gives us strength. On the last day of the holiday, Simchat Torah, the preschool was in session as usual. We were planning a preschool parade for all the classes before lunch. Much to our surprise, the community celebrating Simchat Torah at Bonai Shalom had danced across the street, carrying the Torahs, and were singing and dancing in the courtyard of the JCC.
We invited them into the ECC where we sang and danced several songs with the children. Staff from the JCC joined in and soon all were singing and celebrating together. It was truly an inspiring and spontaneous community moment. It invited a sense of deeper connection into our new preschool gathering space. We hope to have many more impromptu and planned community experiences here at the JCC and welcome the community to share in future celebrations.