By Mayana Branigan
Growing up in a small “moshav,” I can remember the weeks leading up to the holiday of Sukkot. Every family built a beautiful sukkah. All the kids spent the first evening of Sukkot, “sukkah hopping.” We made our way from sukkah to sukkah, admiring the different decorations and–most importantly–sampling great desserts. I will never forget the feeling of being welcomed by every family in their sukkah, with such warmth and happiness. We ate cake and sang songs and then continued on to the next sukkah.
Shay and I feel that “Hachnasat orchim,” welcoming guests, is one of the most important and beautiful Jewish values. We learned this spirit of welcoming from the great patriarch Abraham. Abraham would sit outside his tent waiting for the opportunity to invite dusty wayfarers into the shade of his tent.
Guests are an important part of the Jewish home all year round but especially on Shabbat and holidays. It is taught that the Sukkot holiday best embodies this value of hospitality. The tradition of hospitality “hachnasat orchim” is accompanied by the concept of “ushpizin,” guests according to the Jewish tradition. These guests are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. According to tradition, the “ushpizin” visit us in our sukkah every night of the seven nights of Sukkot. Each one of these great leaders empowers us with the particular quality that defines him. Abraham - “Chesed” (benevolence); Isaac - “Gevura” (discipline); Jacob - “Tiferet” (beauty); Moses - “Netzach” (victory); Aharon - “Hod” (splendor); Joseph - “yesod” (foundation); and David - “Malchut” (leadership). We have much to learn from these phenomenal leaders. In a similar manner in which we are inviting guests into our sukkah, we are also welcoming these qualities, “Midut,” into our life.
Throughout history the Jewish people have endured challenging times and have wandered throughout the world without a home. We feel that we must always remember our history and spend our life welcoming whoever is in need into our home.
The Akron community has welcomed us with open hearts and open arms. We want to thank each and every one of you who has welcomed us into their home and into their heart.
May we all be blessed to lead our life with the qualities of the “ushpizin” and have the pleasure of welcoming many guests into our lives. We are looking forward to seeing you at our programs!