October 8, 2014, - 6:01 pm

Sukkot 2014: To My Friends & Readers . . .

By Debbie Schlussel

Tonight at sundown, the Jewish holiday of Sukkot begins (and ends next week–it lasts seven days, and then there are a couple of one-day holidays tacked on after the end). I’ll be posting one or two more things tonight, and I have several newsworthy things I’ve written in advance, which will be posted during my absence on Thursday and Friday. Per usual, it’s stuff you won’t read anywhere else, including my movie reviews (“The Judge,” “The Green Prince,” etc.). So stay tuned.


Various Versions of Sukkahs/Sukkot

To my Jewish friends and readers, I wish you a “Chag Sukkot Kasher v’Sameach”–a Kosher and Happy Sukkot Holiday. For my gentile readers, here’s an explanation of the holiday:

Sukkot is one of my favorite Jewish holidays because it’s a cool fall, outdoorsy holiday. Here’s some information about Sukkot, from a previous post:

Sukkot (also called Sukkos, Succos, or Succot) is called Tabernacles in English. It is one of the three Jewish harvest festival holidays, and we commemorate the Jews’ temporary existence (and temporary dwellings), while wandering in the Sinai desert [and subject to the will of G-d and the weather conditions imposed by Him].

To do so, Jews build temporary huts (called “Sukkot” for plural) outside their homes. They decorate the Sukkah (singular of the word) and eat all meals there during the holiday. (My father used to sleep in it, too, occasionally. Said it was very refreshing.) It is very fun for kids because they help decorate the sukkah, and also visit other Sukkot in the neighborhood, eating candy and other treats there, sort of like on Halloween (but no tricks or treats, and it’s way more spiritual). My late father used to make his special drink for visiting kids, Vernor’s Ginger Ale, mixed with powdered Nestle’s quick and a generous splash of Rich’s Coffee Rich (sometimes he substituted Faygo Rock & Rye soda (we call it “pop” in Michigan) for the ginger ale).

It’s a very nature-oriented/camping-style holiday (for those who don’t necessarily like to camp) mixed with hospitality, friends, and family: at night, you have to be able to see the stars through the leaves and branches that compose the roof. And many of the traditional decorations are gourds and colored, dried corn. And you are supposed to welcome people to your sukkah.

I miss the Sukkah my father constructed and built every year and the many decorations he put up. As I’ve written before, my favorite was a giant laminated aerial photo of the Old City of Jerusalem with thick white tape my dad affixed to cover up the mosque improperly and illegally built atop the Jewish Temple Mount. I also loved seeing the American and Israeli flags my dad put on the walls of our Sukkah. And we had other patriotic American stuff. There was cool American kitsch, too, with holiday cards featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Donald and Daisy Duck wishing recipients (and sukkah visitors) a Happy Jewish New Year, etc.

Friends of mine invited me for meals in their Sukkot for the next few days. And I’m looking forward to it. Their sukkah is very cool. It has cool tropical decorations, including palm trees and pink flamingos. Another set of friends whose sukkah I’ll visit has a magnificent chandelier, and their Sukkah looks like a fancy palace, with white and gold adornments on the walls and chairs.

More on Sukkot here, here, and here.

In the meantime, stay tuned to my new posts later today, and in my absence the next two days. Y’all come back now, ya hear!

See ya soon.

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6 Responses

Chag sameach Debbie, enjoy your well deserved holiday

japple on October 8, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Blessings, Debbie.

Jack on October 9, 2014 at 12:26 am

Sukkot is also one of my favorite holidays and for the same reasons that you’ve written about here! Your memories of your father’s special drink made me smile. I always appreciate and enjoy your holiday posts. Looking forward to your review of The Green Prince. I read his book. More after the holiday. Enjoy, Debbie!

Nancy Brenner on October 9, 2014 at 11:53 am

Happiness and Prosperity!

Panhandle on October 9, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Such good memories.

One of these memories resonates with me. Debbie says: “My late father used to make his special drink for visiting kids, Vernor’s Ginger Ale, mixed with powdered Nestle’s quick and a generous splash of Rich’s Coffee Rich (sometimes he substituted Faygo Rock & Rye soda (we call it “pop” in Michigan) for the ginger ale).”

This sounds like a version of the traditional New York “Egg Cream”–a concoction invented a long time and still popular today–at least in New York. Despite the name, there’s no egg and no cream in the drank. It’s traditionally made with plain seltzer, chocolate syrup (Fox’s u-bet the preferred brand) and some milk. As the late iconoclast comedian Lenny Bruce (Schneider) used to say, seltzer and chocolate are very Jewish foods, and the egg cream is no exception.

I’ve developed my own healthier version of the drink that actually tastes pretty close to the real thing. I start with about a 1/3 glass of unsweetened soy or almond milk to which I mix well with a scoop of high quality chocolate protein powder (plant based preferred, without sugar). Finally, I add the seltzer, just before I’m ready to serve it, stirring until a nice head of foam develops at the top of the glass. Then, it’s down the hatch. This is not a drink to be sipped, as the froth and foam will disappear quickly–and the froth and foam is part of the fun of the egg cream experience.

Ralph Adamo on October 10, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Happy Sukkot, Debbie.

(Vernor’s – ugh! Faygo Rock & Rye – double ugh!)

DS_ROCKS! on October 12, 2014 at 2:45 pm

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