Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sukkot highlights

  • Tuesday night dinner with Larry and Malka Esther Lennhoff in their sukkah.
We had a grand time with Malka Esther and Larry in the lovely sukkah in their backyard. Malka Esther cooked a feast worthy of a festival, and we enjoyed the fine dining al fresco. It was delightful remaking the acquaintance of Y., whom we'd met when we visited the Lennhoffs on Shabbat/Sabbath. We were also very happy indeed to meet Leora and her husband and daughter (though their sons were eating in other sukkot that night). What fun! Rav todot/many thanks to Malka Esther and Larry!

I've been hearing for years about the Hoshanah Rabbah morning service at the Carlebach Shul, but this was the first year that I had a paid day off on Hoshana Rabbah that enabled me to attend it. Hoshanah Rabbah being the last day of Chol HaMoed (Intermediate Days) of Sukkot, when normal daily activities are permitted, the Carlebach Shul sings the Hallel psalms with instrumental accompaniment (which is forbidden on Sabbaths and Chagim/Holidays, according to the Orthodox interpretation of halachah/Jewish religious law). I figured that such a lively Hallel would be quite enjoyable.

Having taken the precaution of praying Shacharit/Morning Service through the Hallel section at home, so that I could pray in my tallit (prayer shawl, traditionally worn by men only) and use my lulav and etrog without risking offending anyone at this Orthodox synagogue, I was pleasantly surprised to see at least a quarter of the women holding lulavim and etrogim, and two women were even wearing tallitot. So next year, if I have the opportunity to attend again, I've come in full regalia. On the other hand, it was just as well that I've davvened/prayed through Hallel before leaving home, because, much as I enjoyed all the singing, which included a lot of the la-la-la variety, I had no idea where in Hallel they were, most of the time. :) I enjoyed myself quite thoroughly, nevertheless. After all, it isn't every day that one hears Hallel accompanied by two guitars and a violin. I was also quite pleased when the gents rolled open the front of the movable modular mechitzah (divider separating men and women in an Orthodox synagogue) for a moment and handed us women a Torah scroll with which to circle inside the women's section during the Hoshanot. The man carrying the sefer Torah (Bible scroll) around the room before the Torah reading also entered the women's section with it just long enough to enable us women to give honor to the Torah, before returning with the sefer Torah to the men's section. Last but not least, I was happy to see, not to mention hear, Gili Houpt on guitar, and to have the opportunity to thank him for having given me one of the tiny siddurim (prayer books) that he used to distribute for Mincha/Afternoon Service in Central Park, which, as I told him, was the only siddur that I could hold after I broke both wrists last December. All told, Hoshanah Rabbah at the Carlebach Shul was quite a delight.

*This is a good explanation, but I suggest that you ignore the superstition part about seeing one's shadow--I don't believe in superstition, Jewish or not.


Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

I've never heard of the shadow thing - interesting. A friend of mine comments that to him Hoshana Rabba is obviously a pagan festival that got repurposed into a Jewish one - a technique used by religions for millennia. He suggest the waving of the lulav originally representing summoning the four winds to bring rain that is up in the heavens down to earth (thus the 6 directions in which we wave the lulav, which is traditionally explained as acknowledging Hashem's universal sovereignty.

And all of us enjoyed having both of you hear. As Shabbat gets earlier and earlier it gets hard for you to visit then, but we should see about getting together on a Sunday sometime. Failing that, I hope to have a Chanukah party either motzei shabbat or on the Sunday of Channukah.

Mon Oct 12, 11:08:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

A former rabbi of ours was of the opinion that the beating of the aravot/willow branches at the end of the Hoshanot circuits on Hoshanah Rabbah was supposed to imitate the sound of rain. He also suggested that pagans often performed crop-fertility-seeking acts of "sympathetic magic" in the fields, and that the simple act of bringing the willow-beating ritual indoors was one of the ways in which it was "de-paganized" and "made Jewish."

The Punster and I enjoyed your hospitality, and I'm glad you enjoyed our company. Getting together on a Sunday sounds like a great idea, and as for Chanukah, all I can say is "latkes and/or sufganiyot--yum!" :)

Mon Oct 12, 01:19:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Leora said...

It was a lot of fun to meet you, too! The Lennhoffs are wonderful hosts.

I just read about Larry's Chanukah party - now that sounds good...

Wed Oct 21, 02:12:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Leora, indeed, they are the hosts with the most, as the old saying goes.

Speaking of simchas (s'machot?), mazal tov on your son celebrating becoming a Bar Mitzvah!

Wed Oct 21, 08:42:00 PM 2009  

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