Ufros Aleinu SUKKAT Shelomecha: Shelter of Peace

It has been quite some time since I last updated, and there are many reasons for this. First, I have been enjoying myself and the last week of my sumer vacation. Also, i have found myself a bit emotionally exhausted and have thus found it hard to actually write like i want to write. This past week has been filled with many exciting events such as buying Lulav and Etrog in the Shuk, to exploring my feelings about the holiday of Sukkoth, from coming together as a community in a time of mourning to celebrating Life and the beauty of this country, my days have been filled and my nights exhausting.
As i write this, we are deep into the holiday of Sukkot, the festival of booths. I have mixed feelings about this holiday. First, it is always hard to be away from home for Sukkot because i very much miss building the sukkah with my family, decorating it, and enjoying the time out in the sukkah with the evergreen branches and their wonderful aroma. Sukkot is also a holiday in which one needs to purchase a Lulav (Palm leaves, Myrtle, Willow) and an Etrog. NOw, these pieces are very beautiful, but recently I have taken a dislike to them and their somewhat falic nature when combined, as well to the pagan feeling i have when the willow is symbolicly beat on the ground to remove our last sins. Regardless of this, I am obligated by Jewish law to own one, and so, I bought one with my friend Steve. In order to do this, I went on a trip with my classmates from the Conservative Yeshiva to the Shuk. Here, I was surrounded by vendors, each claiming to have the perfect branches to make the lulav, and the most perfect etrog. It was quite overwhelming to be surrounded by the smells of the holiday and the excitement that comes with it, but eventually everyone found the perfect Lulav and Etrog for themselves.
Part of the beauty of Sukkot in Israel is that the entire country is pretty much on vacation. There is no school during Sukkot, and many people take trips throughout the country and some other countries. Some of my friends went traveling to the north, and others to the south. I am staying here in Jerusalem, exploring, having some fun and relaxing until i start school again on Monday.
Lately i have been doing a lot of thinking. Thinking about the world, but mostly how i fit into it, how I feel about where I am in life, who I am, what makes me happy, etc. All things that tend to be brought up in my head when life is changing, and evolving. This past week was quite hard for me, with some changes that were unexpected, and some new events that I had not planned for. There are some days when I just miss my family, miss being home, miss the comfort of all that I knew before. And then there are other days when I feel so at home, so at peace, so happy and content. And these days come and go, as they would if I were in LA or even in Michigan. So, here is an example of the beauty and magic of Jerusalem.
The other day, i was feeling a little bit homesick, I have been having a lot of fun, but sukkot always makes me miss home, building hte sukkah, the smell of the evergreen schach, making new paper chains every year, all that good stuff. I was walking home from a friend’s house, and all of the sudden in my misery I see a sukkah in front of me with the words “Ufros Aleinu Sukkat Shelomecha. Spread Over Us Your Shelter of Peace.” This phrase, which i sing ot myself sometimes as a comfort, that I used this summer with patients to comfort them, popped out at me, captured me, comforted me. Spread over us your shelter of Peace God, that this year might be one of peace, of happiness of contentment. Spread over me your shelter of peace of mind, body and spirit, that I might find the comfort I am looking for. Spread over my friends your shelter of Peace that they and their families might be comforted in your presence. I was captivated by the phrase, taken in, and a smile came to my face. This phrase is also a part of the daily liturgy, and I see it and I think of my family, of my father, who blessed me with this particular phrase on numerous occassions, and I feel at home when I hear it.
And then, the next day, I met up with my friend Shosh Cohen, and we went to the Old City. The city that never changes, but is also so new and different each trip. The wall that has stood for so many years, witnessed so much, but never talks back to me. Or, perhaps it does speak back, I just can’t always hear it. The Old City was hopping, filled with people, alive and energetic. The Kotel was packed and yet sad, lonely at the same time. A wall that stands there, signifying so much. Then, we went to a sukkah in the old city at the apartment of her friend Ezra, and there, sitting in the beautiful sukkah, resting, reflecting, i felt at home, i found my peace. There, in the old city, when i least expected it, God Spread over ME his Shelter of Peace.
And so, it is my prayer, my hope, the prayer of my heart that God spreads over you, over us his/her shelter of peace. That each of us finds our peaceful place, a place of center, contentment, happiness. That the loving embrace of God helps each of us to find our own place, our makom Kavua (set place) in this world, and we enjoy the journey to that place!
Moadim L’simcha!

One thought on “Ufros Aleinu SUKKAT Shelomecha: Shelter of Peace

  1. Matt October 11, 2006 / 1:32 am

    However, my lulav and etrog are the best lulav and etrog in the entire city.


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