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The Perfect Sukkah October 22, 2007

Posted by makingyourdashcount in death, Judaism, Life Journey, mourning, parenting, Sarah Krause, Spiritual Musings, Sukkah, Sukkot, Thoughts, Uncategorized.
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Even though it was time to give it away, we cried when we did. The sukkah has been hanging on a wall of our garage since taking it down the year that Anna became a Bat Mitzvah. It was our first and our last sukkah. Sarah took tremendous joy in erecting and decorating this structure. It fit perfectly on our back porch and was adorned with real and artificial fruits and vegetables. Sarah loved building it and decorated her first and only sukkah with unadulterated joy. I still see her tippietoed on a chair arranging plastic grapes as perfectly as plastic grapes can be arranged and still look natural. (Some things fit in sukkahs that have no place in homes.) Complete with candy and the popcorn balls I remembered so vividly from my childhood, she took pride giving her little sister the perfect sukkah.

The year she died, resurrecting the sukkah and its fake fruit meant leaving Sarah behind; we couldn’t do it. The next Sukkot came and went without our being ready and then this year. No sukkah. One needs joy to erect a sukkah. Although Sukkot is one of those holidays that always brought me joy; since our loss, it still eludes us.

Our simple wood sukkah is part of our history, not our present. Those simple pieces of wood only make me cry.

I feel good about giving it to these friends. Newly married, not quite to the point of building their family, the sukkah will bring them joy for many years. As I wipe my tears as he drives our sukkah away,I know that giving it away was the right thing to do. Complete with candy and fruit and their own memories, again it will become the perfect sukkah.


Finding God on the other side of the Door October 5, 2006

Posted by makingyourdashcount in God, Judaism, Life Journey, Spiritual Musings, Uncategorized.
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It seems as though the only people who really know who God is, are those who have not really stopped to think about why or how God is. Some of us are given concrete images of God to accept as truth; in some ways I envy them. Jews are not given a concrete image. I heard it described this way: Some religions see God as the front of a door. You can see the doorfront. It is something that “is.” God “is”, so emulate God then you can understand God.

For most Jews, understanding is the other side of the door. We don’t have a concrete image to emulate. Instead, understanding God is the active process of working our way through the doorway to what is on the other side. The way to work through the door is by doing those things that God wants us to do, working toward justice in the world, whether that is through political means, teaching a child to read or feeding a hungry person a meal. Every Jew walks through life with a different understanding of who or what God is, because we can not truly see the other side of eachother’s doors.

During the High Holidays, Jews pray to God and ask forgiveness for sins against God over the past year in order to help seal our fates in God’s big book of life. (As Jon Stewart reflected on the Colbert Report,”Whatever that means.”)

However, the majestic God we appeal to on the holidays is not the back of the door I understand. And I expect that I am not alone. I am not big on fate. When horrible things happen in our world, I cannot accept that is destined by God. Instead, things like school shootings and child abductions are a result of individuals who take the opportunity to perform violent acts. They are willful acts having nothing to do with God.

However, dealing with life’s turmoils has everything to do with God and may be the catalyst it takes for some of us to walk through the door and discover what is on the other side.

It always seems easier for people to find God when bad things happen, because people need explanations for things. Filling up an empty hole with God is easier than figuring out the unanswered questions that we have such difficulty dealing with. After Sarah died, people reassured us that God must have needed her somewhere else more than God needed her here. What a tidy explanation for the inexplicable. Teenagers are not supposed to get sick and die in a matter of hours. So voila, an explantion.

We live in a society where not knowing something leaves an incomprehensible hole.

Recently, a friend expressed that she was dating a man who did not believe in God. She said he asked her why she did. Her answer? Because it was alot easier than not believing. I suppose it is but I feel like that answer reflects the front of a door, not the travel through it. In some ways I wish modern Judaism was so easy. Seeing the front of the door in black and white, accepting the Bible as fact and having absolute faith is much easier than traveling through that unknown door.

So as the New Year starts, I hope that I can find glimpses of who what where and how God is.. I do know that the only way I can do that, however, is to take an active role in doing it, for I don’t have an image of what God is supposed to be. I will just look for the open doors that will help me find out.